Planning, meetings, opening times, open days, comms and library management system reports.

Monday 24th July

  • Planned meetings re IT Helpdesk system – ongoing maintenance and development
  • Late evening opening – the Library has been open 9:00am-5:00pm Monday to Friday during June and July.  From 31st July we open 9:00am-8:00pm Monday to Thursday and  9:00-5:00 Friday (closed weekends).  This is mainly because exam resits take place in the first two weeks of August.  For staffing, some of the semester only part time staff come in and work extra hours and some daytime staff cover the rest.  We keep these opening hours until start of semester when we are open 24/7.
  • There are campus Open Days starting 30th September – we usually have an Information Services stand at the event so it means working on a Saturday.  It is a good event to be involved in and it is great to have the opportunity to talk to prospective students and their parents.
    There are student ambassadors who show people round and we are just updating the information that we give to them telling them about the Library and Information Services.
  • I’ve had various enquiries from around the University about using spaces in the Library and Learning Commons especially for enrolment and welcome events.  It’s about finding a balance between the space being available for open access use by everyone and making areas available for specific activities or events.
  • IT Helpdesk – we have staff off on holiday this week so I covered the IT Helpdesk phone and tickets at lunchtime
  • We have a cross team meeting once every 6 weeks between Academic and Learner Services and Resource and Facility Services.  We take it in turn to take the minutes/notes although this gets out of sync sometimes so I pick it up.  With meetings like this that are internal to our dept and mainly operational, I’m in favour of us having notes and actions from the meeting rather than minutes as basically I don’t think we have the time or resource for the latter.  Also I type them up on a laptop while the meeting is going on as it saves time.  It is good to have opportunities for discussions between teams and helpful to keep track of what is happening with new developments.
    Topics discussed this time included the role of the role of the IS/Library reps, journal requests, book repairs, requests for book orders, law reports review and resource subscriptions.  We also discussed the library refurbishment enabling works.
  • Comms – posted to Information Services social media accounts.  Mainly about the enabling works in the Library and the access to spaces and resources.  Also followed up various people about posters and banners.
  • Library Management System reports – spent a couple of hours with our Systems Librarian looking at Alma reports.  What I would like is a personalised dashboard  although once we’ve been looking at it most of the reports that I am interested in are in the standard Fulfilment/Circulation or Inventory dashboards.  It’s good to dedicate some time to system rather than people stuff and have a look at what we can generate which is useful and relevant for service development.  There are some issues that need looking at as far as the user/patron data that is fed into the LMS from our University student information systems and how we can  use this effectively.



It’s all about the conversation…and when to stop

This week has been a ‘noisy’ week – a week filled with meetings, conversations and discussions.  Mostly valuable and worthwhile, some even enjoyable in a work context, but nevertheless a lot of interactions.
Team meetings with teams, catch up meetings with Supervisors, catch up meetings with line managers, Resources and Facilities meetings, project meetings about refurbishments.
Meetings about communications.
Ad hoc discussions about library systems, about IT helpdesk systems, about repairs to ceilings, about training .
PDR meetings – discussing how staff feel about their progress and development – what they would like to do in the future, about what works and doesn’t work.
Conversations with students.
External events at other universities with discussions about new systems and what we need to develop in the future to provide excellent customer service for our students.
The conversations in passing with staff in my team or other teams, conversations as staff drop by my office and its open door.
Telephone calls and conversations.  Email conversations.  Social media conversations.
And then finally today, a day without planned meetings and quietly closing my office door and stopping to think what needs doing…and settling down to do it.
It’s easy to say that it’s important to manage your time and your calendar, and to plan effectively and have a task list and be productive and stop doing some things and prioritise.  But in reality, unless we are at the top of the management structure in our organisation, our calendars seem to have a life of their own.  Also as we all have to work in a more flexible and reactive way, it’s important to shuffle things around and fit in when we can.
For me in my role, I have quite a wide and varied remit.  I’m involved in joint initiatives and projects and liaising with different teams.  My team is responsible for front line, first line services and dealing with customers and their enquiries.  It is why I like my job.
But it is important to find some time to concentrate and I have to make a conscious effort to do this because I’m efficient at multi-tasking (if there is such a thing) and rapid task changing and skimming across the surface of what needs doing.  I’m solution driven so my default way of working is to look at a situation and find the quickest, most straightforward way of resolving it.  But is this the most productive and efficient way – or the best way for me as far as my thinking and reflecting is concerned?  Probably not…so it is work in progress to find more of those quiet Fridays to change the way I work and take a step back from the conversations.



Meetings and meeting people

One of the exciting aspects of starting a new job is meeting new people. Over the last month I have met lots of new people and been to lots of meetings.  As far as meeting new people in a work environment is concerned it can be overwhelming and I think you have to take on board the fact that you are not going to remember everyone and will have to follow it up later.  One way that I have tried to do this is by making a quick note of people’s names and then looking them up later. Or asking them if it would be alright to drop them an email in the following few days.  Email makes it so much easier to follow people up as you can usually find them in the institutions global email address book even if you were not quite sure of their name.  It also helps that it will have their department so for instance if you meet someone who you know is from Registry or Chemistry but didn’t quite catch their name you can go and look up their department and job title and track them down. You have to be pro active to some extent and make the most of the fact that you are new and can ask people if they want to meet for a coffee/ chat/ update because you’re interested in what they do or would appreciate their advice etc. I’m getting better at this than I would have been in the past although I’ve only realised this  on reflection as I’ve done it without thinking. You have to be careful not to put your foot in it and work out whether someone is going to be happy to talk to you or going to be too busy or important but with a bit of care, it works.  At least if you are new and make a faux pas you’ve got a good excuse being new. I have been very fortunate in that everyone at University of Edinburgh has been very kind, helpful and friendly. I have also met some very interesting people who are efficient and clever which appeals greatly.
I’ve been to quite a few formal and informal meetings. At the start I was invited to meetings in order to talk about our part of the overall project. The Student Information Points are a small part of the Enhancing Student Support project. At first I talked in general terms about what we were hoping to do and how we envisaged it would work. As time has gone on it has been possible to start feeding back on our progress and give information of the current situation and further developments.  The more practice you get with meetings the better and I have become more experienced especially over the last 5 years. Every institution, organisation, committee, group does it slightly differently. Sometimes it is very formal and people speak through the chair, sometimes it is a free for all. You have to work out who are the most important people either by rank or by stake in the project or group. Sometimes there are minutes, sometimes notes and sometimes it s up to you to take your own. The more experience you have then the easier it is to work out the system and pattern that is being used. I tend to prepare a set of notes in advance of what I could say if asked or if I have already been asked to contribute, I’ll take a summary sheet with me. You don’t necessarily have to use them but its good to have. It gives some structure and generally makes a better impression.