Tag Archives: library

New job

As I mentioned in my last post, I have a new job! I’m now a Research Support Advisor, which so far involves teaching PhD students about stuff like literature searching and research impact, as well as answering enquiries about bibliometrics or referencing. So far I haven’t had a huge amount of stuff to actually do, but now that things are settling down and I’ve learned more about stuff I should be able to start getting on with things.

 

The team is practically brand-new; they were only formed in July and only actually started working in the same office as each other about a month ago. My fellow Advisors were mostly faculty support librarians (aka subject or liaison librarians) before they came to this team, which was set up as part of a wider restructuring process. As a result of all this change, nobody has quite worked out how the team operates, or whether everyone’s carrying equal weight in terms of their areas of responsibility, so it’s possible that my role might change slightly as the year goes on. Certainly at the moment I feel like I have a lot less work to do than the other Advisors, one of whom oversees the institutional repository and the e-thesis repository, and another of whom carries out expert literature searches for medical research teams.

 

We are each responsible for providing teaching sessions to PhD students in our faculties; my faculties are Biological Sciences and Environment, and I’m scheduled in to provide several sessions for those students between now and Spring 2015. I’ve already sat in on a few of my colleagues’ sessions and I’m starting to get ideas about what I might do during mine – we are delivering the same content but there’s scope for adapting it to your audience if necessary (e.g. science students and arts students search for different types of literature in different places online).

 

I’m also going to be helping my colleague with the expert searching service she provides, and at the moment I’m practising running a search through several different databases, to familiarise myself with the techniques. Although I’ve got experience of working with medical databases and using advanced searching techniques, the work I’ll be doing is extremely technical and methodical and it’s important that I learn to do the process exactly right. My colleague gave me a three-week deadline which I had initially thought was very generous – but almost a week has passed and I’ve only got through a tiny bit of what I need to. For an example of the type of detailed search strategies I will be using, see the appendices to this Cochrane Collaboration systematic review.


Although I haven’t done much yet, I’m sure I’ll have loads to do as I settle in and become more established in the team. There are ideas floating about to revamp our e-learning offering, which will generate quite a lot of work for me, and when the team becomes more well-known outside the library I will start to get more enquiries from staff and students. For now, I’m just getting used to my new environment and trying not to get too lost!

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All change

It’s the summer!

I’ve made it almost all the way through my MA Librarianship course now. All the teaching and assignments are out of the way, and the dissertation is the only thing left. I’m supposed to be doing the literature review at the moment but can’t quite muster up the enthusiasm for it yet. I know I’ll be much happier about doing the project when I get to move on to the more exciting bits, but while I still have the lit review to get on with I’ve been pulling faces at anyone who asks “so… how’s the dissertation going?”. It’s been really nice to do fun stuff for a bit, only going to Sheffield three days a week instead of five or seven, but I do need to buckle down and get on with it.

This week I’m starting a new job! Today is my last day as a Weekend Customer Services Assistant, and from tomorrow I will be a Capacity Management Assistant instead. I’m not actually allowed to work tomorrow (you can’t do seven days in a row at work) so my first day will be Tuesday. I’m looking forward to this job mainly because I get to work a normal pattern – it’s Monday to Friday mornings, rather than every other weekend plus four hours in the week. I get my weekends back! Weekend working has been the worst thing about this year – I love the actual job and the student interaction and so forth, but public transport is RUBBISH on weekends when you live where I do. The trains don’t start out of my village until 10am – not very useful when I need to be in Sheffield at 10.30!

The routine of the new job will, I hope, help me get on with my dissertation and have a properly scheduled life. Work all morning, go home, do the dissertation all afternoon. I love a routine, so I’m hoping that with a bit of commitment I can be the highly motivated and organised person I always knew I could be…

Capacity Management is a totally different type of library job to what I’m doing now. At Sheffield there are well over 1 million books and other materials, and they’re organised into several different collections, most of which are buried in the lower floors of Western Bank Library. Every so often these collections need to be reorganised or moved, and older books move out of the main collection to the “store” collections downstairs, so that new books can come in. It’s Capacity Management’s job to work out where to put stuff, measuring how much extra space is needed for the books joining store collections, and rearranging everything so it all fits. The library is also part of the UK Research Reserve, which is a group of libraries across the UK who coordinate their journal collections jointly, agreeing that one library will hold a certain journal and all the other libraries can get rid of their copies. This is done for journals with especially low usage – you don’t really need a journal that nobody ever uses taking up space on your shelves, and if one day someone does need it, they can ask another library to send it over. One of my main tasks at Capacity Management will be to go around the shelves with a list of journals we don’t need to keep, finding them, taking them off the shelf, and disposing of them. All this might not sound like a very nice thing to do – I know a lot of people get upset at the thought of throwing away books – but there are always good reasons for doing it, and at libraries like Sheffield we are rapidly running out of space. If we don’t need to keep something, and someone else has a copy of it, then why should we? We’re not an archive (and even archives don’t keep everything).

Although Capacity Management is not exactly the sort of area I want to end up in, I’m glad to have the chance to do it. In Customer Services it sometimes feels like I don’t really know what’s happening behind the scenes, and only ever hear about things that directly affect customers. Working down in the depths of Western Bank with the books rather than the people will, I hope, give me a different perspective on processes and procedures, and provide a new piece of the jigsaw. If I ever manage to become a subject librarian I would expect to have a say in stock management – buying new stuff and deciding about what we don’t need any more – so having spent some time actually moving stock around and disposing of it will give me a bit more knowledge about the mechanics of the whole thing. As I’m still assistant level I won’t be making any judgements myself, but I will be a bit closer to the process.

I’ve really enjoyed being in Customer Services, and it’s helped me realise how much I do know and how capable I can be of answering all sorts of enquiries. I’ve discovered over the last two years that I’m much more of a “people person” than teenage me would ever have predicted, and I’ve really loved interacting with students and staff and helping them solve their problems. But equally, I’m looking forward to a new department and the chance to use the other side of me, the side that loves spreadsheets and repetitive tasks and finding stuff on shelves, and I’m especially looking forward to getting to do it all during normal office hours. Here’s to new challenges!

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33%

We’ve just finished Week 7 and are about to start Week 8. This means that I’m roughly 33% of the way through the taught portion of the course already, which is a scary thought. It’s going so quickly! We handed in our first piece of assessed work, a literature review, in Week 6, and there are two other essays and a group presentation to do before Christmas. Eek! We also exhibited posters about information literacy during a module last week, which you can read about on our team blog. To say that we have lots of work to do would be an understatement. Despite the workload, though, I’m feeling really positive about life as a library student at the moment. I even had to boast about it on Twitter, I just couldn’t help myself (annoying, I know!).

Last week, as part of our Libraries, Information and Society module, we went to visit Chesterfield Library. It is a fantastic public library and is absolutely enormous! They’ve got tons of resources and space, and even put on free concerts on Saturday lunchtimes! I learned some interesting statistics on the trip as well – did you know that public libraries have more visitors per year than professional football? I certainly didn’t! Derbyshire Libraries apparently get more visitors per year than Manchester United, which is pretty impressive. All the facts and figures, plus the great tour of Chesterfield Library, contributed to a much brighter picture of public libraries than I had had previously. Here’s the obligatory “I visited Chesterfield and saw the wonky spire” picture:

Nice morning visit to Chesterfield.

A post shared by Emily (@heliotropia) on

On Thursday I went to visit a librarian at a law firm. He showed me around the library area and explained about the sorts of things he does as part of his job, which was interesting because I don’t have a great amount of knowledge about what actually goes on in corporate libraries. Some of the tasks are similar to what an academic liaison librarian or a health librarian would do, for example running inductions for the trainee solicitors, finding legal information quickly for lawyers and getting documents from the British Library. There’s a catalogue, subscriptions to journals, and a physical collection of books, just like what I’m used to. The librarian and knowledge managers also contribute to regular bulletin emails, keeping the lawyers up-to-date on developments in their fields, which health librarians also often do for doctors, and which is similar to the sort of work I used  to do producing newsletters for academic staff. There are differences, though; in this company most of the “knowledge managers” are embedded within legal departments, rather than working in the library. The librarian is the only person who actually has an office next to the books and journals, which makes him quite isolated. Also, some of the materials are different, such as looseleaf services, which I have seen but not worked with before. The librarian also collaborates with the libraries in the firm’s overseas offices, sharing information and resources with them, which isn’t something I’ve seen much in the departments I’ve worked in. Overall, I feel much better informed about the mysterious world of corporate and legal libraries, and would definitely consider working in one if the opportunity arose, as the research aspect of library work is something I really enjoy.

Something else has happened in the last couple of weeks which I’m really proud of – I set up Library Society! It’s a University society for all Sheffield students who like libraries, whether they’re historians, architects, scientists, geographers, or anything else you can think of. We’re aiming to go on trips to unusual and beautiful libraries, as well as eating lots of cake and generally having a lovely time. I’ve got the Committee sorted now, so we’ve just got to decide where to go for our first ever trip, and what sorts of cake we like to eat. Oh, and we need to get some students involved. Easy! I’m really excited about Library Society as I think it’ll be a great way to get people thinking about (and hopefully using) libraries, which will hopefully translate into more people fighting to keep their local public libraries open and professionally staffed. Fingers crossed!

What with all these things and #libcampuk13 coming up soon, I’m having a great time with libraries at the moment, albeit an extremely busy one. It’s all very exciting and I feel like I’m doing a lot of things, and meeting a lot of people, which will all contribute to my future as a librarian (hopefully of the Roquefort variety!). Hooray for libraries!

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I’m Back!

New academic year, new start for Letters from the Library. I’m writing this in Sheffield’s very shiny Information Commons, one of my new homes this year.

I’ve now started both my MA course and my new job, and it’s safe to say I’m going to be pretty busy from here on in!

Last week was Freshers’ Week, which was quite hectic as not only did I attend several welcome meetings and registration events as a student, but also had to attend a training day as a new member of staff. Add to this the faff of getting university admin sorted, and it was a fairly non-stop week for me. It seems to all be settling down into a routine now, which is good at least.

So, first things first – the course. I’m taking four modules this semester, which cover “libraries, information and society”, management, information retrieval and information literacy. I’ve already had an introductory lecture for each of them, so have an idea of which ones I’m going to like and which ones are going to be more difficult! The management module is the one that’s grabbed my attention (surprisingly), as during the first lecture we were shown a job advertisement and told “this module will help you hit each point on the Person Specification”. That’s exactly why I’m doing this course – to get a professional post – so that was quite exciting. I think the module I will struggle with the most this semester is the one about information literacy. While I am interested in information literacy after my practical experiences of it as a GT, the first lecture was quite theory-intensive and dry, so I was not as engaged as I’d hoped. Perhaps it’ll pick up a bit as we go through the term.

I’ve already got quite a lot of work to do – lots of reading and preparation for next week’s lectures, plus a test essay (!) due in a couple of weeks’ time, which I need to research and write. It’s already becoming clear to me how focused I’ll need to be this year in order to stay on top of the workload, as I don’t have very much time in which to get everything done.

I’ve also started work at the University Library – I worked both days at the weekend as overtime (bit keen!) and then worked on Wednesday afternoon as part of my weekday hours requirement. The job is arranged slightly differently to how I thought – I thought you worked one day each weekend and then four hours during the week. It turns out you work both days every other weekend and four hours each week, apart from the first six weeks where I’ll be working eight hours during the week to help me get used to procedures at both library sites. It’s a bit complicated, but I think it’s worked out a bit better as now I can have some weekends to arrange trips, catch up on sleep (and TV) and do some uni work.

My first weekend at work was quite intense – it was definitely a case of going in at the deep end! On Saturday I was based at the Western Bank Library, and after a morning of picking books off the shelf to satisfy reservations, I was posted to the Welcome Desk and then the Issue Counter for the rest of the day. Having never worked at the library before, this meant there was a fair bit of thinking on my feet to be done in order to answer enquiries from people coming in! Luckily nothing was overly complicated and a lot of the things I was asked were quite general enquiries, so I didn’t feel too out of my depth. On Sunday I worked at the Information Commons, which was a completely different experience. I divided my time between the back office, satisfying reservations, and the Welcome Desk, where I mainly showed people how to use the sef-service machines and the printers. The IC is a lot busier than Western Bank (even on a Sunday afternoon), so the three hours I spent as front-of-house were quite full-on. It did mean that the day didn’t drag, though!

The weekday hours I did at the IC on Wednesday surprised me again – after thinking that it was busy on Sunday afternoon, I had to quickly re-evaluate that when faced with the Wednesday afternoon “rush”. I spent part of the afternoon at the Welcome Desk with a colleague, and there was constantly a queue of people waiting for our help. It was never this busy at MMU (at Gaskell, at least), even during dissertation season, so I was a little unprepared for just how busy I would be.

I’m really looking forward to this term – I’ve got some library-related trips planned (Manchester NLPN’s Autumn Event and Library Camp) as well as some trips as part of the MA, which should all be a lot of fun. I’m excited about the stuff we’re going to be learning on the various modules, too, and work is looking very promising. The only problem will be finding the time to fit everything in!

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CILIP: To join or not to join?

I started (and never finished) a blog post the other day about the CILIP name change and how what really needs to happen is an image overhaul and positive publicity for the profession to show people the value of libraries and library (and information) professionals. However, that’s pretty much my entire opinion on the matter in that sentence, which is why that post never got finished. I haven’t really got the inclination to get involved in all the confrontational back-and-forth and besides, loads of people have written and tweeted about it with a lot more insight than I could.

What I do want to write about, though, is CILIP’s membership fees structure. Now there’s a nice lighthearted topic! It’s relevant to me at the moment, though, as I’m starting the MA course soon and feel like it would be a good time to join the professional body. However, I’m not really sure if it’s worth me joining CILIP – now or indeed ever. And here’s why: it’s expensive, and it’s not fair.

It’s not expensive straight away, not for students – it’s only £38 a year for students – but if I got a grade 3 job at MMU after graduating, which is a Senior Library Assistant, I’d have to pay £160. In fact, even if I stayed at the same level as I am now (grade 2 at MMU), I’d have to pay £160. And if I got a job paying more than £17,501, which would be a grade 4 Principal Library Assistant at MMU, I’d have to pay the top membership rate of £194. I haven’t even looked at salaries for professional jobs (i.e. jobs that require the PGDip or MA) and we’ve already reached the top of the membership fees scale.

This strikes me as more than a bit unfair. If, as I hope, I graduate from the MA and get my first professional post, I might expect to earn somewhere around £20,000. The Head of Library Services here earns three times as much as that, and yet we would both pay the same CILIP membership fees.

Another problem I have with the whole thing is that this profession is not especially well-paid. When you look at the equivalent professional bodies for people such as architects and engineers, you find that they charge membership fees around the same level as CILIP’s, despite average salaries for these professions being higher.

So, what do you get for your money? The CILIP website lists the benefits of membership as follows: Advice and support; Advocacy and Campaigns; Monthly magazine, journals and ebulletins; Networking and community; Special deals and discounts.

To be honest with you, I’m not convinced this is a fair return for my money, especially when you consider that you can get most of these things elsewhere without being a CILIP member. And when you add on the price of events (could be £5, could be £30, could be over £300), I’m really not sure I can afford to invest.

The saying goes that if you put more in to CILIP, you get more out. But not everyone has the time, transport or money to get involved in committees, special interest groups, conferences and so on, which means that through no fault of their own they’re not benefiting nearly as much from their membership fee – they’re essentially getting a very expensive magazine subscription.

CILIP are considering making student membership free, which I think is a good start, and will possibly encourage more people in my situation to join. However, I think the jump from “free” to up to £200, dependent on salary after graduation, will still count against CILIP, and I’m not sure how much of a difference it’ll make. The proposal mentions e-only communication and making sure people get value for money, which is encouraging, but I do think there’s more that can be done before I’d be convinced to join up.

My suggestions are as follows:

  • Make it free or very cheap for students, and then have a fees structure that increases steadily, perhaps loosely following pay grades for library staff. I know salary scales vary by employer, but it can’t be too hard to have very generalised bands, e.g. £0-£4,999; £5,000-£9,999; £10,000-£14,999 etc. And don’t stop at £17,501!
  • Don’t waste money on print stuff. E-communication, e-journals, e-whatever are the way forward, especially for the information professions. Printing and postage costs are huge these days, and it’s quite an easy way to make savings that could be reflected in reduced fees.
  • Give more support for students and new professionals. I think a special interest group for these people, offering networking and cheap training sessions, as well as advice and support tailored to new  and aspiring professionals, would encourage uptake of membership. Having cheap/free student membership as well as this might require creative budgeting, but I think it’d pay off by increasing the retention rate for new members.
  • Be more visible (in a good way). I don’t want the only time I read about CILIP in the papers to be about squabbling over name changes. Being seen to be taking positive action and advocating for libraries, rather than staying in the background a bit, can only serve to increase people’s inclination to join in.
  • Provide more stuff. This is coming, in the form of a Virtual Learning Environment as well as a Professional Knowledge and Skills base, but really, the more benefits of membership, the better. Club membership and cheap breakdown cover on my (non-existent) car aren’t really doing it for me.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels like this, and I reckon CILIP needs to think seriously about what it’s offering people like me (and what its image is like to people like me) as, if students and new professionals don’t feel inclined to sign up, then the membership will continue to dwindle. Hopefully some positive news will come out of the upcoming AGM, where the free student membership is being proposed, which might lead to me taking the plunge and signing up.

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Silence in the library

I’m getting worse at updating the blog – it’s not unexpected though, as less new and exciting stuff happens to me these days! However, I thought I should probably just do a quick update on what’s going on with library life at the moment.

Exams and dissertation season has been and gone, and blimey, that was busy. People were banging on the doors fifteen minutes before we open, so desperate were they to get their hands on our thesis collection, and the demand for laptops was so high we had to turn people away. What amused me were the “regulars” who would come in every day for two weeks and ask for the same three theses – why didn’t they just photocopy the relevant bits?! There was also one guy who would come in every day and ask for a laptop – it got to the point where it felt like I worked in a pub (“the usual?”). There was, of course, all the stress and frustration that comes with exam season – not for me, but for the students. We had printer problems, network problems, printing credits going missing and essays disappearing. It meant I got to use all my customer service and “dealing with difficult situations” skills from those training sessions earlier in the year! 

The past couple of weeks have been noticeably quieter – yesterday we probably had about 50 people come in during the day, and it’s only going to get quieter now that the majority of the students are finishing their year and going back home. We’ll still have some nursing students and postgraduates, though, so it’s not going to be completely dead, but it is noticeably different to the atmosphere a few weeks ago. It’s just so quiet! Term doesn’t finish for another three weeks, but after that we’ll be on summer vacation hours until the Autumn term starts (and I’ll be gone by then!) – three more late Wednesdays and then I’ll be on regular hours for the rest of my job. We had a team meeting the other day and it was the first time that anyone mentioned that I’ll be leaving quite soon – it was quite weird to hear that said out loud! I know that the new GTs have now been chosen, and I’m looking forward to getting put in touch with them quite soon (or at least I assume this will happen, as it did for us last year). 

 The other week I went to a public lecture on digital humanities, which I was expecting to be quite interesting – and it was, but not for the reasons I expected! It was about Doing things Differently: writing, academic journals and social media in the online world. It was presented by the editors of an online journal, and the blurb made mention of Open Access, which I wanted to learn more about. I’m interested in social media too, so this sounded really good. However, the actual event did not live up to expectations, and there were some mentions of “Creative Commons” which made all the library staff whistle through their teeth like builders. (Creative Commons doesn’t mean you can use any old thing off Google image search!!) It was interesting to hear about journals and OA from the perspective of two academics, but it was a bit of an eye-opener too, as I somewhat naively expected researchers (and editors of online journals) to be a lot more clued in on technology, resources and social media. It shows that there is a lot of work than can be done by libraries and information professionals to support researchers and improve their knowledge and skills when it comes to these areas.

Last week I had a surprise delivery of 120 new books – rather more than I usually get! It is nice to be able to tell the academic staff that we’ve bought all the books they wanted, though, and the monthly new books newsletter looked very impressive! We’ve used up all our budget for this year now, so the book deliveries will dry up until next term. That takes a big chunk of work out of my day, but there are other projects to be getting on with over the summer, so I’m sure I’ll still have plenty of things to do.

We’re currently running a Patron-Driven Acquisition exercise with e-books, which is where hundreds of titles get loaded onto the catalogue, and if a student clicks on one and reads it for more than five minutes it triggers the purchase of the book. Some of the titles are interesting, to say the least – we found one about Jungian theory in relation to sand. Bit odd! The purpose of the PDA is to provide more material online while the book stock at one of the site libraries is unavailable as it moves into the main library over the summer. The move is now underway and we are having to keep on the ball when it comes to sending books to other sites – books might say one thing on the system while actually needing to be sent somewhere else. Needless to say there’s a lot of signage around to keep everything straight!

Now that the academic year is coming to an end the big project is renewing all our digitised material for the next year. This is the first time we’re doing it with the new software, so it’s a big learning curve for everyone. My first task was to write out the instructions for the renewals process, which is easier said than done – we kept getting updates to the instructions as people tried them out and discovered bugs. We are now in the process of contacting all the academic staff to find out what they want us to keep – if all goes to plan then we can upload or delete the relevant files before September and get everything straightened out. This has involved two new spreadsheets so far and I’ve been using my newfound Excel skills to add fancy conditional formatting and other bells and whistles, which has been fun in a nerdy way. The whole process is just a bit weird for me though as although I’m setting up a lot of the work, chances are I won’t be able to complete it all before I leave (depending on the speed of responses from lecturers), so I won’t get the satisfaction of seeing this through to the end.

We’re coming towards the end of the stock take as well – we’ll finish scanning the shelves with the digital library assistant this week, and then it’s just a case of tying up the loose ends and getting everything to add up. It’ll be strange not having scanning to do as part of my daily tasks!

One last thing that’s happened recently is that I gained two new qualifications – I’m now a Microsoft Office Specialist in both Word and Excel. I had to sit an exam for each of them to prove I’ve got the skills, which meant a lot of quick learning of things I’d never really done before. It’s already come in handy as I have been able to “decorate” some  spreadsheets with special formatting to improve their functionality. It’s a handy thing to put on a CV too, especially seeing as I haven’t got the time or money to take the ECDL, which some job applications require.

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NLPN Spring Event: Part Two

This is the second part of my monster post reflecting on the Manchester NLPN Spring Event. The first part can be found here.

Manchester NLPN's logo, shamelessly nicked from their Twitter page

Manchester NLPN’s logo, shamelessly nicked from their Twitter page

After lunch we had a talk from Emily Hopkins, who works for an NHS Trust in Manchester. She explained that the library services in the NHS are as varied as the parts of the NHS itself. They typically provide any combination of the following: books and journals, infoskills training and critical appraisal, current awareness updates, literature searching, inter-library loans and document supply, and study space. The Trust Emily works for is a mental health Trust, and has thirty different locations, including hospitals, offices, clinics  and outreach centres. There is a phsyical library, but a lot of Emily’s work involves her going out to the different sites to work with the staff there. In terms of outreach and advocacy, Emily says that her strategy is to go where the users are – this might be team meetings, CPD events, or staff training days. To promote the library, she uses a website and social media, but also – and I think this is the best bit – freebies. I am now the proud owner of an NHS pen and notepad, with all the contact details for Emily’s library on there, which is really handy if you actually work for her Trust – you can keep it next to the phone, and you’ll always know how to contact the library.

 
We looked at case studies to get an idea of the sort of work Emily does to advertise her library. We saw that often, you’d only get a five-minute slot during a meeting to showcase the services the library offers, so you need to prioritise the services that are most relevant to the people you’re speaking to, and speak in their language – they’re not books, they’re the “evidence base”.
 
Like the school librarians, Emily has found that a great way of advocating for her library is to show the directorate how the library service aligns with the business objectives set out for the Trust – looking at stated aims, such as “using research to inform care” and showing that that’s exactly what the library is for.
 
The final talk of the day was from Alison Sharman, who is a librarian at the University of Huddersfield, and who set up a project called “the Roving Librarian”, to increase the visibility and accessibility of the library on campus. The basis of this project was research carried out by the university, which is documented here, and which showed that not only does the number of hours spent in the library strongly correlate with a student’s final grade, but also the type of resource used can have a big impact on a person’s grade. Students receiving Firsts and 2:1s were much more likely to have used e-resources than books, and vice versa for the students getting 2:2s and Thirds. The interesting result from the study was that the number of visits to the library is actually roughly equal across the board, meaning that people getting Firsts are getting a lot more out of each visit than those on Thirds. Other statistics included first-year students not borrowing any books, third-years relying on Google rather than specialist databases, and staff not recommending library resources to their students.
 
To combat these statistics and ensure that everyone got a fair shot at a good grade, the library staff decided to adopt a “bring the mountain to Mohammed” approach and take the librarians out of the library. They used tablets to go out and about and approach students around the campus, asking them if they had any problems or needed any help with their work. The project was evaluated and the results were published later on.
 
An important point Alison made was that the Roving Librarian service had to have a recognisable brand, to help it stand out and get noticed outside the library environment. They had a logo made up and used the branding for computer screens, social media, stickers and the Virtual Learning Environment. I have to say, I’m not a fan of the logo that was chosen, (while discussing with others, we agreed that we would prefer to use art or design students to work on the branding) but it certainly stands out.
 
During roving sessions, the rovers would give out freebies (again! I think I need to talk to MMU Libraries about this) as well as questionnaires to help assess the effectiveness of the project. One statistic that arose from these questionnaires was that 80% of students felt they would be more likely to use physical resources in the library after having spoken to a rover, which sounds like definite success to me.
 
Alison’s keys to being a successful rover are as follows:
  • engage students in friendly conversation
  • know your subject
  • make it personal
  • experiment
  • timing is essential – target busy times and busy places to be more visible
  • go out in pairs, so there’s a spare person if one’s busy
  • have freebies
  • try promoting a specific service – e.g. infoskills sessions or libguides
  • gather feedback
  • try roving with (wisely chosen) students
The project sounded very interesting, and I think it’s an inspired way to reach out to students, rather than just putting out posters or advertising on a website. Conducting a study like this also helps to prove the value of the library to senior management, as the data can be used easily to show the impact that the project is having on students’ academic performance.
 
All in all, the Spring Event was a roaring success, and I thoroughly enjoyed the sessions, not only because I got to hear about some great projects, but also because they afforded an insight into types of librarianship that I haven’t had much contact with, which is helping me form a clearer picture of where I want my own career to go. Plus the cake selection was excellent! Thank you again to Catherine, Amy , Sian and Helen for organising the event, and to all the speakers. I’m looking forward to the next one!

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