A network for new and aspiring library professionals
On 12th March I attended CILIP North West’s (NW) Members’ day and Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Preston. As a former student representative for MMU on the committee for the branch I was too busy preparing a business plan (for the MA) to attend the last Members’ day and AGM so was looking forward to the day!
The day began with an explanation of the theme: celebrating success and the good things that are happening in the North West despite the challenging times libraries are facing; I believe this is important as it can be easy to dwell on the negatives and overlook the positives! There was also an emphasis on the role of the branch in connecting sectors, which the members’ day demonstrated.
The first speaker was Victoria Treadway (@Librarianpocket), a NHS Clinical Librarian whose job involves helping to facilitate the most effective way to treat patients. Victoria spoke to us about a pilot she had been involved in at work to help medical staff to navigate all of the information out there (‘From the library to India and back again’). The pilot involved a librarian (Victoria) attending ward rounds and using an iPad to find evidence to support the medical decision; this demonstrates the use of outreach in clinical areas to ensure patients are treated in the most effective way. Not only was the pilot a success, due to the contribution of knowledge to decision making providing ‘the right information (evidence-based) at the right time (the ward round) and the right place (the patient’s bedside)’, it also led to an invitation for Victoria to speak at a conference in India to talk about the pilot.
The experience helped to develop further Victoria’s skills in persuasion, negotiation, writing, budget and time management as she had to persuade and negotiate with managers in order to go to the conference, writing sponsorship applications, abstracts and make posters etc.; budget and time management in order to manage her money (i.e. travel etc.) and commit to her day job whilst planning for the conference. Victoria stated that she feels the pilot not only led to her self development, taking a reflective approach towards learning to use when working towards chartership, but also added value to the trust, as it provided accurate information, was cost effective and guaranteed that the best care would be delivered.
Victoria concluded that in the current climate there is an inevitable need to demonstrate self-worth in order to show the value and impact you make. This is another important message and I was inspired by Victoria’s journey in which she used technology to demonstrate her self-worth and the skills she has as a librarian to show the value a librarian can bring to an organisation and also improve existing processes.
There was then a break which gave us a chance to network and snack on the free biscuits and tea/coffee before the next speaker. This was a nice opportunity as a new professional and I got the chance to speak to one of the area managers from Lancashire County Council (LCC); where I now work but whom I had not met before.
The second speaker was Stewart Parsons (@LibraryFiend), Project Manager for Get It Loud In Libraries at LCC (‘Amplifying all we’ve got: the Get it Loud experience’). Stewart’s role focuses on youth engagement by providing cultural youth events in order to access this audience in a way that has not been done previously. As a music librarian for LCC Stewart was frustrated with the BPI agreement which stipulated that new CDs would not be available for three months, thus hindering access for young people. This combined with the fact that 94% of 11-19 year olds love music led to the creation of Get it Loud which set out to give young people what they love (music) in a place under-represented and not visited (libraries).
The project focused on exceeding the expectations of what young people want from libraries and representing the library as a space of huge culture and value; demonstrating the value libraries offer. This was facilitated by young people who ran the website and social media side,and film and photography produced, thus developing skills for those involved. Get it Loud In Libraries also challenges perceptions of libraries through the use of loud music (artists that have played in libraries include: Adele, Jessie J, Marina and the Diamonds, Plan B, Florence and the Machine, Professor Green amongst others).
The project resulted in 28,000 new users signing up the libraries and provided social and economic benefits for young people. Stewart concluded that it is important to sell your message in an articulate way; again demonstrating the value and impact you can offer. This is relevant to me as this is something we can do with the network in order to continue to achieve funding to organise events.
After Stewart’s presentation the AGM was held which involved a review of the branch in 2012, including the Annual Report and Annual Accounts. This detailed the work of the branch i.e. providing training and networking events for local members and information about the direction of the branch; a potential merger with NW Career Development Group. As a new professional I find the branch a really useful way to keep up with CPD and network with others from different sectors. David Stewart, Branch Chair, emphasised the need for librarians to support and join their professional organisation, especially in the current climate, asking: How can we expect to be taken seriously as a profession if we do not have a professional body?
This led onto lunch which provided an opportunity to network with others and catch up with those from my Masters course that had attended.
After lunch was the keynote presentation by Phil Bradley (@PhilBradley), CILIP President (‘Leverage our reputation – librarians in a social media world’). Phil began by explaining how we are moving from ‘web 2.0’ to ‘real time media’ and how content from social media is rapidly expanding thus changing the way search works. The number of traditional web pages has decreased, however, social media is more apparent in searches ‘the rise of social search’; meaning there is more interest in the individual now!
He stated that Google makes its money mainly from advertising not search, therefore, it is not a very good search engine. The material found by search engines is generally old and may not always be relevant, thus we should think about how we are searching! The advanced search function on traditional search engines is no longer as prominent, thus indicating that they want us to rely on the basic search.
In order to overcome irrelevant results from search engines predominantly interested in profit, Phil suggests we use social media sites such as Icerocket, Flipboard, Paper.li, Scoopit, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Slideshare etc. (sites designed to be used quickly, easily and effectively) to find out what is important to you based on the network you are part of; collating the information you are interested in from recommendations rather than search. In addition to this, we need to create and promote material for ourselves, as there is more emphasis on the value and impact of the individual.
As library and information professionals we have a responsibility to ourselves and others to be aware of how privacy settings work for ‘real time media’ or ‘business media’ (rather than ‘social media’). This media provides tools that facilitate workload, are free and generate a higher profile for you and your organisation providing a trusted local source of information, therefore they should be used in the workplace.
The last talk of the day was delivered by Margaret Robinson and Jayne Evans, Library Service Managers from Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) (‘It’s all about the small stuff! Using staff and student feedback as a basis for improvement’). Margaret and Jayne spoke to us about the process of attaining Customer Service Excellence (CSE) at their institution. In order to attain CSE status they stated that it was critical for them to look at what was being done and the need to identify gaps in order to improve their service. In order to successfully complete the process they cited that engaging staff at all levels and gaining their support was crucial; this included surveys to launch the service and gaining feedback from informal road shows where staff could discuss their findings and make suggestions in how to proceed.
When implementing the process, they found that staff took ownership and initiated processes they thought would help. When identifying areas of change it was mostly small things that affected customer satisfaction, noise levels etc. which could be rectified relatively easily and cheaply e.g. a text service for customers to alert staff members of noise violations.
Tips they gave to those who are wishing to gain CSE status at their institution are: target feedback from specific targets i.e. reading lists rather than annual surveys which can be low; it is important to record feedback to show evidence in the long term ‘closing the loop’ by informing both staff and students on what the issues were and how they had been rectified. MMU record this feedback on their library website: http://www.library.mmu.ac.uk/otherinfo/standards/summaries/index.php.
As part of our aim with the network is to collate feedback and improve on this, it is useful to hear about the processes employed by MMU and I will take this on board when looking into feedback from our forthcoming event.
The day ended with thanks to all those involved, particularly the speakers and committee. As a new professional I am grateful for CILIP NW (@CILIPNWBranch) for the networking and learning opportunities they afford to their members and would recommend joining the branch to anyone in the North West area. Their events provide members with opportunities to network with those from other sectors, tours to libraries in the North West and funding opportunities to attend events; our next event will be the second event sponsored by CILIP NW which we are extremely thankful for!
 A video explaining the pilot can be found here: http://www.whnt.nhs.uk/hrod/development/library_services/services/clinical_librarian_service.html.