Working group updates

I thought it was about time I wrote something more about the work of the groups I’ve been part of during this academic year. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m currently in a group looking at using new technologies to communicate with our users/stakeholders, and also I was a member of the group tasked with looking at the use of space in the library building.

This latter group (known here as the Space Group) has now been disbanded, because we’ve now finished the projects we were asked to complete. We were asked to plan and implement a new ‘model’ creative space in the library, as well as extended the quiet study area. The creative space didn’t present us with too many problems, although our original suggestions of where to have this space and what to do with it in terms of decor were mostly rejected by the management team, so we ended up being told where to put the space and the implementation of the new creative space really just consisted of getting furniture moved round. When we first set up the space, it  looked more inviting and conducive to group and creative work, and we saw people using the space for this purpose, which was gratifying. However, since then, the space has been used for lectures, so all the furniture has been moved and not put back how we originally wanted it to be set out, so the “creative” space has really become no different from any of the other areas of the library.

The quiet study area presented us with a few more problems. As with the creative space, our original suggestions of where to situate the extended quiet study area were eventually rejected,  and we were asked to make the whole of one floor a quiet study area. This has presented various problems, not least there being a massive (deliberate) hole between a noisy floor and the quiet floor, so it’s impossible to keep the quiet area quiet, although as more people have got used to the space being a designated quiet zone it has got progressively quieter and, on the whole, easier to manage.

Although the group was asked to disband, we were then asked to evaluate the use of the space and how well we think we completed the tasks we were set. So, for the past few weeks library staff have been counting how many have been using the quiet zone, and the group have asked for and recorded feedback from library staff. Really, we needed to have a better mechanism in place for evaluating how the space is being used and also for getting feedback from students, but time and resources did not allow for this. So, we will present our report to the library managers and see what happens then.

The communication group is continuing, and things, on the whole, are going quite well. The number of followers of our Twitter feed continues to grow, and the university bookshop now has its own Twitter account as well. The library’s Twitter feed has proved really useful for informing people about various problems we’ve unfortunately experienced over the past few months, and for communicating with people who might not otherwise have engaged with library services. The pilot of the Twitter account has been extended until Easter, when we will need to submit our evaluation document to the library managers. We (well, our chairperson, mainly) have been gathering both quantitative and qualitative evidence in preparation for this, and I have foolishly volunteered to draft the report.

Since late last year, I’ve again become a member of the group that looks after documentation (printed guides and leaflets) and the library webpages. I’ve had some training on SharePoint Designer, and recently I’ve been re-getting to grips with making changes to web pages and adding items to the library news box.  We’re planning some changes to the library web site which should (hopefully) make it easier for people to find information, so I’m looking forward to seeing those come to fruition.

In other news, I have 90 boxes of donated books to catalogue – but only once I haven’t got anything else to do…so it could be a while before they get done…

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A short update

Well, we had our feedback about the communications group’s social media strategy. I suppose it could have been worse, but it wasn’t resoundingly positive. We have to explain more about why we think we need to use social media (as opposed to other forms of communication, I think), and also more about the practicalities of using the tools, such as how long it would take to set things up and administer them. This latter is particularly annoying, as we deliberately didn’t put things about practicalities into the strategy as they didn’t seem ‘strategic’ enough. Oh, well. The good news is that we’re allowed to start trialling the use of Twitter at the beginning of the next academic year.

In case I haven’t already recorded this (which I may well have done), the managers’ feedback regarding our proposals for the use of space in the library was also rather mixed. They liked some of our ideas for the creation of more silent study space, although we’re not allowed to do any interior decoration (e.g. to differentiate zones using colour), but wanted more detail about exactly where furniture would be moved to and from, and disagreed with a few other suggestions we’d made. However, regarding the ‘creative zone’, they said they didn’t think the area we’d chosen for this was suitable, so we will have to start working on this again scratch (well, almost), which is rather annoying.

Cataloguing-wise, the first batch of donated theology books has arrived. There are nine crates, which is plenty for me to be getting on with. Also, lots of freshly-ordered music CDs and DVDs are waiting to be catalogued, so I have quite enough to do at the moment. This is a good thing.

On holiday

I’ve got the week off this week (lucky me, I know), so I thought I’d use some of my free time to reflect on what I’ve been up to at work recently.

I’ve now finished the main bulk of the music cataloguing, which is a relief. However, the remaining scores are interesting little things – and I mean interesting in the sense of ‘may you live in interesting times, as well as actually rather intriguing. So far, I haven’t found one that has been catalogued anywhere else – at least not with a retrievable record – so I’m having to do them all from scratch, which is good practice, but time consuming. To add to the fun, most of them have no publication details, apart from maybe a date, which may well be the date of composition, and I can’t even tell what kind of music they are scores of, which makes filling in the 008 and the 600 fields quite interesting. I’ve been spending quite a lot of time looking up composers’ websites in the hope of finding some clues, and these have been helpful in some cases, but, again, it’s all quite time consuming…although I must admit, I do find it very interesting. A lot of the composers have recordings of their works on their sites, so I’ve been listening to a few things (again, in the hope of finding clues), and most of it is not really my cup of tea! One memorable piece is a mish-mash of various sounds made my a string quartet using their  instruments to, for example, speak to a (presumably hypothetical) puppy. Very clever, but not really my thing.

I’ve also been cataloguing quite a few boxed sets of TV series on DVD, including my favourite TV series, Battlestar Galactica! So that was fun. New books are coming in thick and fast now, it being that time of  year, so I expect my workload will increase quite a bit over the next few weeks, if last year was anything to go by. I also have a couple of large boxes of education-related books that have been ‘donated’ by another campus library to catalogue once I’ve finally finished the music scores, so I will definitely not be short of things to do over the next few months!

On top of this, I’m now supposed to be helping out with the institutional repository in the afternoons. Fortunately, there hasn’t been too much to do with this so far, as the person in charge is now back from his first bit of paternity leave.

Things have been quite busy on the ‘front of house’ side over the last few weeks, as we neared the end of term. Loads and loads of books have been returned, and library users have left plenty of books lying around for us to clear up every day – which only adds to the number of books we have to shelve. It’s actually becoming an unmanageable situation, but we are supposed to be getting some new student shelvers soon, which should ease it a bit – we hope.

We haven’t had any official feedback from our ‘spaces project’ report, although unofficially I’ve heard that we will be sent back to the drawing board to look again at the ‘creative’ space. Aggh.

In an effort to do some research for the ‘new technologies’ group, and for my own interest, I participated in (although mainly lurked on) the CIG E-forum on Social Media in the Cataloguing Community last week. It was interesting to hear how cataloguing folk use social media to promote themselves and their work to library users and colleagues, and also to find out how other libraries are using social media in general (rather than specifically related to cataloguing). Unfortunately, the group looking at using social media tools in our library hasn’t met since January, so I think it might be a while before this cataloguer gets her hands on (e.g.) a work-related Twitter account!

Since I last wrote, we have had our appraisals, but I’ll write about those in another post.