Monthly Archives: September 2014

ARLG Conference 2014 report – Part 2

Helen Monagle won the ARLG NW bursary to attend the ARLG Conference 2014. Her report on the conference is in 2 parts – you can read part 1 here.

ARLG photo 3The five key messages from the conference were the importance of demonstrating your value and service; adapt; work collaboratively; direct involvement (leading from the front)/engagement is essential and that alignment is critical. Things to bear in mind:

  • Use statistics/analytics to show your value, impact and relevance.
  • Marketing your service is vital – Katherine Rose (Regent’s University London) asserted in her workshop that we need to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones into promotion whilst remembering “no communication should be without purpose”. Action words are used at The Keep to engage and to show that the service is alive and relevant! (Fiona Courage, Special Collections Manager & Mass Observation Curator, University of Sussex – fourth keynote speaker).
  • Student endorsements are great when trying to prove the library’s value to the university – Madeleine Lefebvre (Chief Librarian, Ryerson University – third keynote speaker).
  • Demonstrate your niche skills as a way of promoting your service e.g. reviewing data management plans.
  • Importance of direct contact e.g. Regent’s University London found that direct contact and engaging with academics rather than students is what delivered results when promoting their new discovery service. Getting staff on board (academic buy in) is vital and led to being invited into classrooms to provide instruction to students. They also found that promoting the service via emails and training via drop in sessions didn’t work as well.
  • Madeleine – taking responsibility for things bigger than yourself ensures that you get noticed e.g. the library was involved in building the website and providing metadata for Winnie the bear exhibit and have also pioneered apps for enterprise.
  • Remember to know your limits re involvement – we can’t do everything!
  • To be able to adapt Paul Jeorrett (Head of Library, Glyndwr University – third keynote speaker) informed us that we need to take care of ourselves in order to be in a state to work with others and make the most of the changes whilst being mindful of your values and trying to hold to them.
  • You have to aligned with the academic plan!
  • On the topic of working collaboratively the following was said: (Madeleine) helping others gets you noticed; faculty support can be won just by being willing to help; you never give things away by working with others, in fact you gain way more! Working together is so productive (Paul). All of the challenges of working with new people/collections turn into positives; we are stronger together than apart; “the whole greater is than the sum of our parts” (Fiona).

The conference provided a valuable insight into what other academic libraries are doing in terms of service provision e.g. reviewing data management plans and LibAnswers[1] and how they are safeguarding their service by demonstrating their value and promoting the service.

Presentations from the conference can be found here:

[1] An online reference platform that helps ensure that users get fast and accurate answers from their librarians and also provides detailed statistics.


ARLG Conference Report – Part 1

ARLG NW offered a bursary to the national ARLG conference. Helen Monagle, Principal Library Assistant at Manchester Metropolitan University was the winner of our bursary. Her report on the conference appears in 2 parts, today and on Monday.

The ARLG 2014 Conference entitled “Academic libraries the final frontier – to boldy go where you have never been before” took place over three days, 23rd – 25th June, at the University of Sussex. Without a bursary from ARLG North West branch I would not have been able to attend this conference; as such I am extremely grateful.

ARLG photo 1

Welcome to the conference!

I began my conference experience by taking part in a Taylor and Francis focus group discussion focusing on The Use of Social Media (SM) in the Library which will be used to inform the White Paper they are producing on the topic. The focus included Using SM Tools in Your Library; User Engagement & Perception of Your Use of SM in the Library, amongst other topics. This was a great start to the conference which allowed me to express my opinions on these topics, learn from others and to engage with some of the delegates before the conference officially began.

The conference programme was packed; four key note speakers, nine workshop sessions, a quiz and gala dinner. There were 45 workshops in total covering the following key topics:

  • Teaching and learning
  • Research support
  • Shared services
  • Learning spaces
  • Electronic resources
  • CPD

In order to gain the most from the conference I attempted to attend at least one workshop covering the above topics whilst maintaining a focus on electronic resources, as this is more suitable to my current role. Given the multitude of presentations over the course of the conference (I attended all four key note sessions and eight workshops) I will not be able to provide detail on all of them so I will aim to sum up the key messages of the conference.

The conference began with an uplifting welcome from Kitty Inglis, University Librarian at the University of Sussex, who informed us that despite the increasing pressure upon us to demonstrate our services, value etc. we are very well placed in the Higher Education arena as agile adopters of technology to make them our own e.g. shared services, students as co-creators, MOOCs, Open Access etc.

Kitty’s welcome was followed by the first keynote speaker for the conference, John Purcell from Durham University with his presentation “To boldly go…stretching the envelope and making us indispensable”. John continued in the inspiration vein by informing us that it was important to remember that librarians are in control (the slogan on his t-shirt read “Librarian in Control”), especially in a time where libraries are taking on new roles and fresh challenges. During his presentation John asked the audience to raise their hand if they had had their responsibilities increased in the last year – over half the room raised their hand; thus demonstrating the “stretching of our envelopes” as librarians roles are well and truly stretched. Why is this the case? John explained that are librarians are good managers, professional, confident, engaged, valued, provide a neutral service and have a strong understanding of users viewpoints; in summary we are indispensable to our organisations! In order for the profession to live long and prosper we must make sure we are engaged, aligned and relevant to our institutions or RAE:

  • Relevance (of provision) –delivery of academic services, teaching, content management –print and electronic, research support, user support.
  • Alignment (with strategy) – is about partnering and promoting across the institution whilst distinguishing students needs & wants; this is critical as we need to be completely aligned with our institution and students. We need to decide what activities add value and get involved by leading from front. However it is important to be careful who you align with in terms of your strategic positioning/partnerships.
  • Engagement (with everybody) –partnership roles e.g. JISC, SCONUL; internal & external projects; academic liaison; shared services; academic writing e.g. SCONUL Focus, CILIP Update etc; externality e.g. conferences, CILIP, SCONUL; benchmarking which is critically useful.

It is also about making choices – we can’t do everything so we need to bear in mind the mantra John uses “stop starting and start stopping”. In order to “future proof” and make ourselves RAE we need to use some of these techniques: SWOT analyses; process reviews; benchmarking against our competitors; institutional visits in order to learn from others; scenario planning; remain professionally engaged and aware[1]; take bounded risks; continue service development. John purported that the “best way to predict the future is to invent it”. We need to make ourselves indispensable and prove it:

  • Carry out skills analysis to identify what we are lacking and rectify it.
  • Be a willing change agent – lead the changes rather than being followers.
  • Be agile, responsive, creative and innovative.

John concluded his keynote by confirming that ‘it’s a great time to be a Librarian in academic libraries’. John’s keynote not only provided practical tips on how to survive during these challenging times but was also uplifting as it reinforced the notion that we are skilled professionals with a vital role to play.

[1] John suggested that Library Schools should enable us to dip in and out in order to keep our skills up to date – this would be great!

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