First day of Semester

It went well considering…although I didn’t get finished until 7.15pm

The library was busy all day. The main enquiries from students have been how to log on, how to get passwords changed, how to connect to the WiFi, how to find books in the catalogue and find them on shelves and also printing. There has been so much printing today, students printing off large documents of many pages – there’s definitely not a move by students to have it all online to read. They want it available online but then to print out and read and keep.

Password changes, while quick and easy to do are something that we need to look at automating. We need to look at giving feed back about enrolment as it seems students are enrolling and then coming straight to the Service Desk to get passwords reset.

Other things that I’ve done today include helping on the IT Helpdesk at lunchtime dealing with the phones and tickets.

ALS/ RFS meeting – update on journals, LMS and library refurbishment.

A look round the new Learning Commons, LC2, which should be ready at the end of September.

Sorting out some interviews for next week. 


Communications, staffing, training…

Communications Group meeting – for November we need to promote some library related events such as Book Week Scotland, raise awareness of new books and resources ‘Resource of the week’? Create content for the digital displays especially in the Learning Commons and look at content for ‘You said, we did’ posters etc.

Staffing – evening and weekend staffing is sorted out now although we still have a vacancy for lunchtime cover at the Learning Commons.  There are also some secondments that have required documentation submitting and there is a possible vacancy coming up.

On going training on the usual things including the Library Management System and the IT related tasks that Service Desk staff need to carry out.  Plus some university wide online training on information security and governance etc.

Stock relegation (weeding) is continuing at a pace, mainly due to my prompting and the fact that we have a full complement of staff at weekends now.


Semester 1 so far

We’re now at the end of October and at the end of week 7.   The time goes incredibly quickly without a chance to think about what is happening.

The beginning of semester went well especially with the opening of our Learning Commons.  This is a space in the main part of the university that is being managed by Information Services and staffed on a daily basis by the Customer Services Team.  It is part of the library but at a separate location – no books but study spaces of various types including group areas and rooms. It looks really great and is popular.

We’re there from 11.00am – 4.00pm to answer enquiries in the same way as we do at the Library Service Desk.


The new Library Management System is working well although, as expected,we have had lots of configuration tweaks to make after going live and also on-going training for staff.  It’s a matter of everyone getting used to it and using new procedures (not trying to replicate previous practices!).  The evening and weekend staff have had to do a lot of learning on the job but we’re all getting there.



Manic Monday…

Monday, a packed day of meetings and things to sort out

  • Weekly catch up meeting with Service Desk Supervisors including rotas and procedures for the new Learning Commons
  • Meeting with the security firm who provide coverage in the library building during 24/7 opening which starts from the beginning of semester through to mid-December
  • Discussion regarding Alma (Library Management Platform training) for Customer Services Team and related teams before the beginning of semester
  • Meeting regarding communication of developments with the Library Management platform – relevant and timely communication for users, staff and students, and also for Information Services staff
  • Meeting of operational board of Learning Commons
  • Pre-handover meeting for project board of Library Management Platform
  • And then…after 5 o’clock, catch up with Evening Librarian Supervisors and shortlisting for Customer Services Team vacancies
  • 8 o’clock – library closed and home time 🙂

Monday – no meetings…

A Monday and no meetings so a chance to catch up on tasks
1. Social media – quick check of twitter feed and Facebook page.  I do have alerts for them set up so shouldn’t miss anything but I don’t post to them over weekends.  Added some quick posts and checked for anything interesting.  Scheduled some posts about the power hour sessions that are coming up this week (Information Services training sessions).
2. Sent emails to various people in my team to suggest some training opportunities that are available and signed up for a couple of sessions myself
3. Checked up on the IT Helpdesk temp that we have working for us at the moment – had a chat with him to make sure he is ok with everything and knows who to ask if he needs support.  Chased up a few outstanding requests.  Sorted forms.
4. Authorised holidays and checked the HR system for sickness and absence records
5. Emails…
6. Wrote up the notes from the Service Improvement Group meeting that I chaired last week.  Had a think about how we are going to tackle the next stage of the changes that need to be implemented. Circulated notes, actions and suggested next steps.  Need to put a date through for a meeting.
7.  Talked to the Information Assistants about the tasks and activities they are up to and the tasks that I would like them to do.  Asked them about shelving and how we are keeping a record of work flow.
8.  Confirmed details of a visit to Uni of Edinburgh library for some of the Library Assistants
9. Wrote up some PDRs from last week with review statements and confirmed objectives for forward job plans
10.  Liaised with Subject Librarian and Resource Manager about a user enquiry that was taking up lots of resource and time
11. Helped on the Library IT Helpdesk as there was a queue as I was passing – mainly password issues and also staff wanting to change email set-up on mobile devices due to change to O365
12. Emails…
13. Talked to evening staff as they began their evening shift as Evening librarian not here and updated them on things that have happened during the day

The good thing about days when I don’t have meetings is that I can make a bit of time to talk to staff and just generally be about the place to see what’s happening.  It works well for me on a Monday as it gives me a chance to sort problems out at the beginning of the week and set tasks and get feedback.

Time and space – LMP, enquiries, documentation, PDRs and other projects

We’re already into the 3rd week of semester (4th week back in the new year) which means that tasks and activities are already being packed into the available time and space.
We’re now into the second phase of our Library Management Platform project which is implementation.  The procurement framework was created successfully and we now have a supplier. The kick-off meeting for the project board was Thursday and we are now looking at the project timeline to identify key dates and training opportunities.  It is the typical mixture of thinking that this is really exciting / interesting and on the other hand wondering how we are ever going to get everything done before August.
Students have been getting settled in again and usage of the library is steadily increasing.  This time of year is quite good for Universities like ours that have exams at end of December as you have a relatively calm period in January.  The footfall into the library has been steady and increasing and there is a different feel to the beginning of semester than in September.  Less frenetic and more focused.  A little busier than last year on individual days with highs of 1850+ daily footfall but less busy for the month as a whole.  24/7 opening is now run of the mill for semester time and has gone without any hitches so far.
Enquiries have been within the usual categories with the most usual being password changes, WiFi/eduroam, catalogue searches, room bookings, inter-library loans, software, printers and email.
We’ve been working on our help guides and documentation to simplify the formats of any printed materials and to make sure the content matches the information in online guides and the website.
This is to make it easier for students to get help from anyone at the Service Desk and improve consistency.
Performance Reviews have started and are being greeted with a mixture of enthusiasm and inevitability but are important and are an opportunity to put forward views and ideas.  They usually go quite well actually and I’ve started planning visits and training based on suggestions.
Other projects that are starting up include the stock reconfiguration project and the customer services team are involved in the weeding and sorting of items.  We’re reviewing the changes we made to the 3hr loan collection during the summer when we rationalised the collection and made it accessible by self-service.  We need to look at how effective this has been and whether it has improved the service which I think it has.
We have had a chance to look at some of the study spaces and tables and even got an extra study booth which is popular.  There is more demand for group space at the moment which is a change from December when it is individual, quiet space that is at a premium.
Nearly the end of January and after some very rainy weather I’m hoping for an improved outlook.  It brightened up for about 15 minutes today which is just enough time for a quick walk round the library and garden.

New Year – back to work

First day back at work in the new year 2016 – not quite first day of semester as that doesn’t officially start until next Monday.  A new year resolution to write a blog post here everyday even if it is very brief otherwise it is difficult and time consuming to remember what has been happening.
It’s good to have a few days before the students come back in order to regroup and try and plan for the next few weeks.  The library is open 9-5 this week and then next week 24/7 all the way through until the end of May.
Today, in no particular order, I sorted out the staffing for the IT Helpdesk as we had one person off sick and checked on the working hours of the Information Assistants for this week.  They work evenings and weekends sometimes but have to fit in with when the library is open this week.  One of our IT specialists is going to be helping out with User Services/Desktop Support for a few weeks so we need some temporary cover and have some people coming in tomorrow for an informal interview.  I put together some questions to ask them and a skills/scenario test. Then checked the rota for other Service Desk staff in the library and delegated some tasks that needed doing which were mainly collating some stats from last semester and summarising usage of the space during exam time.
We are getting a new study booth tomorrow so, with a couple of others, I moved some study tables around to make space and we moved some of the catalogue/OPAC PCs to a more accessible spot.
More staffing issues which I emailed HR about and confirmed arrangements for next week when evening and weekend staff start back again.
Then the usual emails and some planning of workflows and events for the next few weeks – hopefully will be able to get more people interested in doing things and going places.  Caught up with team members about what they’ve been doing and progress on tasks including the monitoring of the short loan collection over the last semester since we changed it in September to make it open access and self service.
All in all a relatively straightforward day and good to finish on time at 5pm.  Tomorrow’s another day.

Week by week – Semester 1, Library Management Platform, Staffing, Study Spaces

Another week by week monthly summary as this semester has continued to be packed with things going on and reflection is out there somewhere on the horizon…
The end of October and beginning of November continued with Library Management Platform supplier demonstrations and scoring and subsequent consensus scoring.  The process has now completed and we are just waiting to get some technicalities finalised before proceeding with the successful supplier.  There will also be work to do on the SCURL framework and the dissemination of this to other interested parties.
A lot of time has been spent on staffing issues and developments over the last couple of months and this will continue into the new year.  We have some vacant evening/weekend library assistant posts so there has been some juggling of people to provide effective cover.  It always becomes more difficult into the winter months with sickness and travel.
As far as students are concerned we are now into our busiest time of the year especially with study spaces in the library.  The last day of teaching was 4th December and now we have 2 weeks of exams.  This means the library is full for at least 4 hours of the day and very busy for a further 8 hours a day and in use for the other 12.  It creates problems, the same ones experienced by a lot of other university libraries, of noise, shortage of space, food and drink, unattended items etc.  However despite this we do provide a good learning and study space and for the thousands of students using the library each day, it works.  We are averaging a footfall of 3000+ per day with a peak occupancy of nearly 600. 
We do have a programme of monitoring the study space in the library on a regular basis and this helps to keep a balance between all the different users and the demands on the space.
We’ve had a few ups and downs with services including an unscheduled installation of applications and systems, a Microsoft downtime of O365 and then today problems with jisc JANET service.  This means that communications have to be carefully managed in order to get the correct information out in the correct format and try to keep everyone in the loop.
Our social media accounts accounts are developing and I’m trying to train up more staff to use them and take responsibility for posting to them.  It’s difficult to fit training into the busy schedule during November and December but we’ll pick this up in January.

I have managed to get out to a few events including SALCTG, CSGUK and ELISA.
The CSGUK conference went well in November at Kings College and I enjoyed organising and facilitating the workshop sessions.  Still writing up the data and feedback that we received.
The ELISA winter networking event is Wednesday 9th December at the National Library of Scotland so looking forward to that.  

View from my office window