Mid-semester already and at the ‘wading through treacle’ phase. We have had the excitement of the beginning of semester with new developments such as Learning Commons 2 opening and getting the Library re-organised for the start of the refurbishment works, and now it is work, work and more work.
The Library building itself is busy with students – looking at the stats we are busier than the equivalent week last year which either means everything is a week ahead or we are going to be busier than last year. We are encouraging students to use other study spaces across the University campus in order to make the most of the space. We have two Learning Commons now – one in the central part of the University and one in the building that was the post graduate centre. These are great spaces with different combinations of seating and study tables. The library building is more noisy at the moment as the ground floor is closed although we have the same amount of study spaces. There is also study space within the James Watt Centre near the main entrance and reception.
Apart from staffing, which continues to take up time and effort but hopefully will improve, there has been:
Comms – for Information Services about the refurbishment and building work
Comms meetings university wide for applicants
Library system and process improvement
Library Collection and configuration – most enabling work has been done for Phase 1 of the building work – some journals and the theses are offsite and we’re trying to improve the retrieval process
A new room booking system which is university wide so looking at how that fits with our room booking system and migrating data and facilities over to it.
This also involves IT Helpdesk work and making sure we are up to date with what is happening so that we can answer enquiries.
And lift access cards and water fountain leaks and bees in study rooms
Today has been about interviews. Interviewing for a part time Circulation Assistant. It went well and although we haven’t made any decisions yet, I’m pleased with the possibilities.
I spend a lot of time on staffing related stuff – it seems like too much time and is quite frustrating. The reasons are that we have a lot of part time semester only staff that work evenings and weekends and are often looking for other jobs with more hours. Also that we had a staffing restructure last year and that we have had a voluntary redundancy scheme this year. Both of these events have outcome s that mean changes in staffing.
In addition to the changes that lead to staff changes, the recruitment process is time consuming. From seeking permission to recruit through to appointment and induction, it takes time and effort. Some of it, I don’t mind doing i.e. the actual interviews but all the background work is onerous.
Other staffing issues that are time consuming are overtime payments and also our semester only staff have to have some of their annual leave payments processed separately as they can’t take all of their entitlement. The disadvantages of having staff with a variety of different work patterns is that there is no set pattern and so each has to be dealt with separately.
This is all before we get onto PDRs/Appraisals and staff development.
I am going to look at ways that I can delegate or transfer some of this workload onto other people. I would like to spend less of my time on staffing and more on developing the service.
We now seem to be into our stride with ‘out of semester’ work. It takes a couple of weeks to switch from the student focused semester service to a more steady but just as busy work pattern. There are still students using the library on a daily basis mainly Masters students and international students but our opening hours are 9:00am -5:00pm Monday to Friday rather than 24/7.
We have had some groups of pre-sessional English students and these continue through the summer. They have induction and user education sessions in the Library.
We have been sorting out the short-loan collection – reviewing usage, removing and adding items depending on demand and changing details on the system.
We’re still involved in enabling work for the library refurbishment which is mainly stock checking of journals and periodicals. Also planning for ‘what’s happening’ next and sending out relevant comms.
Other things include:
Library Management Platform working group – preparing for the new Discovery interface which should be live in July.
Looking at the options for a small self-service circulation kiosk for Orkney campus.
Planning summer training for the Customer services Team
Updating help guides
Comms about upgrades, systems at risk or planned downtime
Staffing – the usual ongoing staff management and also wrapped up in that is the post VR staffing challenges.
I did get to show some people around the campus and Information Services on Monday and Tuesday who were here for interviews so that was a good start to the week – it’s great to talk to people from other places and show them what we do here
The end of another Semester and we made it through with some success.
I always expect to feel really upbeat and giddily happy at the end of the semester / academic year whereas actually it is a mixture of relief and satisfaction for all we’ve achieved and the service we’ve provided and the students that we have helped and supported.
As we all know the days of the summer break in libraries / universities is very different to what it was and we start almost immediately thinking about what we need to plan for next September.
We started the year with the opening of the Learning Commons which has been a great success. It has been popular with students and it has enabled us to showcase an example of the learning environment and service that we offer.
And now we are planning for our major refurbishment of the Library building.
Transforming Your Library
The enabling works have started and we have library books, journals and other stock are being relocated either offsite or to other floors of the building. The Ground Floor of the library is closed and access to resources is by request at the Service Desk.
There has been a lot of work done this year regarding library collection management including weeding and rationalising of stock.
Our new Library Management System went live last June and the project was finished by the end of September. We now have a Library Management Platform working group which took over from the Project Board where we discuss progress and developments to the system. We’re also looking at what self-service circulation facility we could provide at our Orkney campus.
There have been quite a lot of changes to our IT helpdesk over the last year including a change to staffing and this will continue over the next few months. This has given us a chance to make some changes to the operational procedures and also to look at short term and long term developments. We have started to review our IT Helpdesk system and we hope to update this in the coming year.
Changes in staffing have also meant a change to the Service Desk Supervisors roles and much more integrated working between the IT Helpdesk and Library Service Desk – it is definitely a Service Desk now that can answer any sort of enquiry or issue. We are continuing to work on staff training and upskilling to make sure that staff are confident to provide the help and support for students that is needed.
Communications have been a big part of the year with our blog posts and social media accounts being used on a daily basis to inform and promote a wide variety of topics.
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.