Chartership progress - structure & layout
Chartership today, tomorrow chartered (I wish)
I had another meeting with my mentor, the lovely, Lisa Jeskins on Thursday.
Having completed the Personal Professional Development Plan (PPDP) a few months ago. I thought I’d better get on and actually start filling my portfolio with evidence and reflection, having achieved so much already.
Before the meeting, I had organised my portfolio into sections based on my PPDP, and put in some of my evidence. This formed the basis of the subsequent discussion.
However, the problem we both quickly stubbled across was that of structure and layout. There is no clear guidance it would seem. The content is ultimately decided by my activities, so does that mean the structure and layout should follow content, and that it is up to me to curate it in the best possible light?
This is the structure so far:
- Personal Evaluative Statement
- Personal and Professional Development Plan
- Organisational Structure
- Job Description
- Mentor / Mentee Agreement
- Mentor Log
- Glossary of Abbrevations
- Appendix A: Personal Performace
- Appendix B: Library Services Performance/Delivery
- Appendix C: Countining Professional Development
- Appendix D: Wider Professional Context
This led us to look at various examples of recently published portfolios on the interweb. Alas, this did not help either - no one seemed to have a set formula to which they were sticking to. This did lighten the load. As nobody seemed to be sticking with a distinguishable structure, so we decided the world was our oyster, and as long as it contained relevant, useful, illustrative examples, good and intelligent self reflection, and evidence of growth and understanding, it would do.
Reaching out is everything
With student expectations exceeding the services on offer, cuts in university funding, lower recruitment, tighter internal fiscal constraints, competition from outside the sector, the Library has to push what it does and how it does it even more so than ever before.
My current campaign is pushing the Library’s Digitization service. In preparation for next semester, I have produced a new poster promotion aimed at academic staff who use Moodle and Talis Aspire.
The poster is adorn staff notice boards, be sent in an all staff email, and be converted into an A5 leaflet with details of the Digitisation service on the back.
The aim is to increase awareness of the service and increase its use.
My first official chartership meeting
Chartership: Mentor / Mentee agreement
I had my first “official” chartership meeting with my mentor (@LisaJeskins) last Thursday. It was the day we officially agreed upon the mentorship agreement.
The mentorship agreement outlined what the purpose of the chartership process is, but more specifically what the mentorship element of chartership meant to us. What was the purpose of the mentor/mentee relationship? What did we (and I) hope to achieve? What were the foreseeable difficulties or obstacles? Was there anything in the cupboard that needed airing, putting out to dry?
We both agreed the primary purpose of the mentorship was to guide, to help, to assist my evidence gathering, to provide advice and information relating to chartership and professional development, to be a sounding board. Poetically put, it was to shine a light on any muddy paths - I once remember reading somewhere that chartership is a like journey, and I’d need a torch at some point.
We also agreed how we would communicate with one another, how often we should communicate with each other, and whether or not we had any no-go areas. We didn’t set any off limit areas. But if they ever came up, we would address them there and then at the time they came up.
We both decided that we didn’t require a set date to meet - we thought it wiser to arrange meetings as and when we need to discuss something. We had a desire to use social media - we are already using Twitter to communicate with each other. Dropbox to share documents wasn’t a bad idea either.
On reflection then it was a luminous success. It made me feel enthused, motivated, and even inspired at one point. Without sounding overly gushing, my mentor has some excellent experiences under her belt, and will no doubt provide invaluable advice and guidance - I am aware my mentor might read this, so no pressure there.
CPD23: Things 9 - Evernote
I have mixed feelings about Evernote. I installed Evernote on my ipad about a year ago, and I have hardly used it - I probably made about about three or four notes, and that was all. I then went onto installing Evernote on my mac, as the two devises can be synchronised. I have still yet to use it on my mac.
However, purposefully, for thing nine, I recently opened it to try it out again. Unfortunately, I still have yet to find a use for it. This is not because there is anything wrong with it, but I use other apps and programs to store notes and websites. So from a marketing perspective, it does not fill a need for me - they have already been filled elsewhere.
I use Delicious to bookmark websites, tag them, and where necessary add notes to them. Although, it is not possible to annotate particular sections of websites. I believe this is where Evernote could fill the gap.
I also use the GoodReader to download pdfs and other bits and bobs, and annotate them.
However, my aim this week is to try and build Evernote into my work - find websites that I might annotate and store. I think only by using it more will I begin to appreciate it.
Customers, clients, patrons, readers, users
How do you refer to the people that come in and use your services?
Customer noun. a person who buys goods or a service; a satisfied customer (Cambridge Dictionary Online)
Customer noun. a person of a specified kind whom one has to deal; a tough customer (Oxford Dictionary Online)
Client noun. a person or organisation using the services of a lawyer or other professional person or company
Client noun. a person being dealt with by social or medical services
Client ancient rome. a plebeian under the protection of a patrician
(Oxford Dictionary Online)
Patron noun. a person who gives financial or other support to a person, organisation, cause or activity
Patron noun. a customer especially a regular one of a store, restaurant or theatre.
Patron ancient rome. a patrician in relation to a client; a former owner of a freed slave
Reader noun. a person who is fond of reading
Reader noun. british. a university lecturer of the highest grade below professor
Reader noun. a person entitled to use a library
(Oxford Dictionary Online)
User noun. a person who uses or operates something
User noun. a person who takes illegal drugs; an addict: a heroin user
User noun. a person who exploits others.
User mass noun. law. the continued use or enjoyment of a right.
(Oxford Dictionary Online)
Managing expectations: It’s all about the language we use.
As library and information professionals, we have developed our own professional language, a language linked closely to our profession.
The problem with this is that we have often failed to provide a dictionary to our customers. Although, I do not think this is a conscious action, but rather because we take our language for granted.
I recently went on a visit to the University of Manchester Library. Whist there, I noticed that they called their circulation area lending services. I started to think about all the different types of libraries I have visited over the years, as well as about how I refer to services within MMU Library and her customers. At All Saints Library, MMU, the service point, enquiry desk, or counter, whatever you want to call it, is formally named circulation. But, to a student, circulation might mean something different, or more likely, nothing at all. Therefore, it is difficult to expect what might happen there.
In a similar fashion, I have always preferred calling users of the library customers - it also seems to be the default preferred term. Although, I am aware that not everyone uses the term customers. I have often heard my Library Services Manager at Aytoun Library call library users clients. This could be attributed to the fact that they are predominantly business students, and the word client falls within their their business vocabulary. It’s almost expected that it would be used.
However, for me client is overly formal. And, user is, arguably one sided - use and abuse. Implicitly, somewhere there is a power imbalance. Patron and reader seem dated. But, customer suggests some form of relationship. I would never say, for example, ‘I have a good user relationship.’ As to me, it sound exploitative, as if I am using the relationship for my own ends. I would, however, say ‘I have a good customer relationship.’ It appears more natural and normal.
Therefore, my reasons for choosing customer are quite simple. For one, customer is a relatively neutral term. It does not invoke either strong nor weak emotions. It is also widely understood what customer means, and this is important. If you know the meaning of the word, you can understand it and play the part. You as a service provider can expect particular behaviour from a customer, and a customer can expect to behave in a particular manner.
As part of the profession we’re in, I think it important to reflect on our own professional language.
CPD23: Things 8 - Google calender
There is so much going on in my life, both inside of work and out of it. There are so many dates, events, activities that I need to keep track of.
At work, I am working on a number of on going projects, such as the signage working party, the Did You Know? campaign, theses repository development, along side the more routine stuff, such as subject meetings, meetings with academics, InfoSkills and Induction development, VLE development and so on . Then there are such things as Talis Training, which requires scheduling training at mutually convenient times with others. To manage the scheduling aspect, I currently use Doodle, an online schedular. Then outside of work, there is my Chartership to think of, along side all my other ‘extra-credit’ activities, such as the LFG Library and writing publications. Therefore, timing is everything.
At work I have multiple diaries. I have my personal one, a small bright red dairy. The Humanities, Law, and Social Science faculty diary, located in a different office. Then there is the circulation diary downstairs at All Saints. As I am split between All Saints Library and Aytoun Library, there are also the diaries at Aytoun to think of whenever I plan an event. Adding an activity to one, means adding an activity to all of them - a not so easy task.
I used google calender a few years ago, and found it lacking. However, the up-dated version looks better, and has additional functionality. In particular, I like that it is possible to share calendars with one another. The added advantage of an online calendar, is that it is online, so it moves with you - all that is required is access to a computer and internet connection.
If it was not for using ical (which is synced with my ipad), I would definitely use Google Calender as an alternative. MMU could also do with using an integrated calender system. Indeed, Microsoft Outlook comes with a shared calender system, but unfortunately the scale of MMU and the variable technical skills, and access to computing facilities makes this an unfortunate impossibility - I have already tried to push it. However, I will still make others aware of this facility for personal planning, and continue to advise that people give Doodle a go wherever they can.
CPD23: Thing 7 - Networks and professional organisations
It is a while ago since I actually completed thing 7 - I have only just found the time to write about it.
I went to a CDP23 meetup in Manchester on Wednesday 20th July, and met some really interesting people:
- There was Lorna (Librarian at Aquinas College, Manchester - @LFairie) who actually invited me to it in the first place. Lorna always has her finger on the professional pulse.
- Micheal (@library_micheal), an NHS Library Services Manager near Bolton. He was also studying the MSc Information Management, so we had a chance to compare notes.
- Sarah (@manynicethings) was a studying the MA at MMU. We also got to talk about life at Library School. She also had some interesting thoughts on Blogs and other digital mediums.
- Anna (@holdyourspin) was also there. I had previously met anna. Sarah @fablemouse had previously introduced me. And she now volunteers, at the LGF Library with me. Anna was also starting Library School, so I was passing along some trade secrets.
- Rosie, an archivist, also came along. Her post seemed to be very different, but it was interesting to hear about life as an archivist.
Given that it was a while a go since I went, it is surprising I still remember the finer details. The memory is a great thing.
But, I do like doing things like this, because its great to hear from people from across the professional spectrum. It reminds me how I got here, and where I have left to go.
CPD23: Thing 5 - Reflective practice
It was only when I was employed as a graduate trainee library assistant that I truly came to understand what was meant about reflective practice and professional development.
My fellow colleagues got to do their yearly PDR (professional development review), but as a graduate trainee I was not able to do one - the traineeship lasts only for one year, and the expectation is that you go off to Library School afterwards. There is an explicit focus on professional development throughout the GT scheme, thus there is no need for a PDR. However, I felt at a loss.
I like reviewing my skills, expertise, and development. Therefore, I made a conscious effort to review my own development. And then, half way through the graduate traineeship, I went into my line mangers office and kindly asked if we could talk about my development. I new she would not mind discussing my development - she was and still is a very open person, and values people who develop and expand their abilities. We discussed what I had done so far, and where I might go, and we came up with a list of things I could focus on.
From that point on, I have approached my development in a similar fashion. Identifying my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats at various periods of time.
My blog has also helped me to personally reflect on my own experiences. The blogs of others have assisted me in reflecting on the types of opportunities out there, as well as where I might develop those skills and experiences I don’t yet have - looking outward helps me tremendously.
While I have not been able to keep up with CDP23 for a variety of reasons, I am finding it a valuable experience, which has enabled me explore my development further.
CPD23: Thing 4 - Current awareness, Twitter…
I try my best to keep on top of library related things, but I do sometimes find it difficult, because there is so much to keep on top of. However, I think that I’ve started making some headway. I realised, for instance, only to focus on a few select blogs, tweeters, and websites that focus on my particular areas of interest - for example, focusing on the select few blogs that I know talk about customer service excellence, or marketing library services in HE. My advice is to think about what you want, and then go about getting it - it’s exactly the same advice I would give my politics students.
I have also found that other professionals are good at locating sources of information, and summarising it. In essence, other professionals become my aggregators. It is the same way academics work. There are some great academic writers, Giddens, Turner, Scott, that are brilliant at surmising really long passages and theories. They are the goto people. It is the same for the library world too.
I’ve had a twitter account for sometime now. I go through phases of participating. I leave it alone for months, only looking through posts. At other times, I participate contributing to discussions, retweeting, and the like. It often reflects what I am doing in the non-virtual world.
I am now following over 100 people, and for me this is just about manageable - although I am still open to following more people, but I have started to be a little more selective. Actually, #woodsiegirl gives a good account of how I tend to manage my own twitter account - it’s as if she was reading my mind.
I have tried a number of different RSS feed technologies. There was the built in RSS feed aggregator that comes with Mac OS X (apple’s operating system). It’s built into the Mail app. The problem is I use Microsoft Entourage (email client) to check my mail, so I do not open Mail that often. I, therefore, stopped using it to aggregate my RSS feeds. The other issue was that I am not always at my iMac - it’s at home, and I spend a lot of my time on the move or at work.
I needed something better, so I turned to Pulse News. I can say now that I could not live without it. I am able to pull all my RSS feeds into one app, and bring order to the madness. I have my news feeds, BBC, guardian online etc; I have my graphic design feeds, library related blog feeds, techi feeds, and so on. The app make organising them into categories easy.
It has changed the way I interact with RSS feeds, because it has meant that I can bring them together, and carry them with me where ever I go. I am not stuck to reading them on a my PC or Mac.
Keeping things separate
Flipboard is another app that has changed the way I keep up-to-date with information. However, I tend to use Flipboard to organise my non-library related information. Flipboard turns my feeds into a magazine like layout. I consider it to be a lot more casual. The layout enables me to identify what to read and what to overlook, with relative ease. I have my Facebook, gaming, film, and literature feeds, for instance, linked to Flipboard. I like to keep my library world separate from my none-library world, and the two apps do this nicely.
Workflow management and libraries
Reading list workflow
I have recently been tasked with completely reworking the way in which reading lists are unloaded on to the new electronic reading list system, Talis Aspire, at MMU. This has been a challenging task, but a rewarding one.
A new electronic reading list system was implemented at the beginning of this year. Its intention was to replace the old system: Talis List, an out-dated and unfriendly system. Along side this, MMU implemented a new reading list strategy. In short, it stated that all units should have a reading list, and that reading list should follow a specific structure. It should recommend three items for purchase, ten items of essential reading, and twenty items of further reading. The strategy, itself, has been a success in some respects, and a failure in others. Nonetheless, the strategy was meant to standardise units across the University, and this it has done.
However, many of the old lists in Talis List, were transfered (migrated) over to the new reading list system. However, much of the lists were in a non-standard format, some were broken down by week, subject, or resource type. This meant that Talis Aspire was to be populated with out-dated and incorrectly structured lists. As a result, the lists had to be deleted and replaced with new lists, or edited, bring them inline with the way they should look. The subject librarians, including, myself have been responsible for doing this.
The reading lists are pulled from the unit specification system or received from unit leaders on a regular basis, throughout the academic year. The reading lists are then checked and distributed to support staff. One of the major problems is that support staff are not fixed to a particular subject. They float between subject disciplines, and have a mixture of other responsibilities. Therefore, the workload between individuals is different, and it is not always clear who has the time and capability to either create a new reading list or edit an existing one.
Like students, many of the support staff have different ICT skills, some better than others. The more complex lists are needed to be given to those with the ICT skills to do them correctly. This is not always known by the subject librarian.
Subject librarians have other responsibilities. However, because support staff are not always available, subject librarians have been completing the update of their lists themselves - which is hardly ideal.
In the old system, lists would be distributed to support staff, but would disappear, as individuals would leave for the summer. Therefore, lists would go unprocessed and forgotten.
A new workflow was necessary, and I was tasked with this creating this. However, I was aware that there is out there some guiding principles to workflow management. I briefly recall the systems thinking week at Library School. I also wanted a system that ‘efficiently’ managed the reading list processes, from start to completion, avoiding many of the problems of the existing system.
I started by discussing how the different subject lists were managed by the different subject librarians. It was apparent there were some similarities and some differences. I then began to breakdown the different processes. I then removed those processes that were unnecessary or overly complicated, breaking it down into its basic elements - always keeping in mind the end result.
It was clear that there need to be an intermediary between the subject librarians and the support staff, someone who could liaise with subject librarians and support staff. It was also clear that a new reading list management system was needed, to keep track of where the reading lists where, what stages they were at, whom held them. I created a new searchable database, using Microsoft Access.
Applying a business strategy
The new workflow is soon to be implemented - starting with a few subject areas, and then expanding it outwards. I am happy with the results, so far. I believe it has been made easier by applying and understanding the principles of workflow management, rather than simply approaching it in an ad hoc kind of way. The reading lists should now flow in the right directions to the right people at the right time. And as a result, the student at the other end should see a completed and standardised reading list, appropriate to their subject.
Short Loan has changed
I have been involved with managing, weeding, and rebranding short loan at Aytoun Library.
It was identified that short loan was an underused collection, which was confusing to customers, and a common source of conflict. Short loan can produce hefty fines for late return, and the fines system was confusing. Therefore, it was not conducive to good customer service. It also relied heavily on staff-student interactions, and therefore went against the self-sufficiency ethos of the Library. It made no sense to have most of the library’s collection issuable at self service, and a small section of it locked down.
The task involved looking at usage statistics, talking to my short loan team, as well as collaborating with other site librarians about how to go about changing the collection for the better - the collection had to be changed at all sites, and not just at one particular site to maintain consistency. As I have learnt, consistency is everything for good customer service.
The result was a rebranding of short loan to one day loan. A friendlier and understandable system, but still ensured that a heavy demand system was still in place.
To ensure a smooth transition, I designed instructive stickers for the front covers of one day items, explaining the length of loans, fines in place for late return, and so on. Save for fines, I focused on the benefits of the one day loans, instead of the negatives. Green spine labels were also produced.
At Aytoun, I also designed the above poster, with varying yellow text - again focusing on what can be done, instead of what can’t be done. The posters were produced to advertise the change, and point customers in the right direction.
At first, I was apprehensive about managing the short loan collection. I also thought weeding; it doesn’t necessarily ring bells of excitement. How wrong I was. I have truly enjoyed managing this collection, because it wasn’t just about managing a collection, but thinking about its use, value to students, and staff interactions, as well as collaborating and communicating with a wide assortment of interested parties. It also contributes, I hope, to a greater good: improving the customer experience at the Library - the movement from a quite a hostile collection to a usable and amiable one.
CPD23: Thing 3 - Consider your personal brand
I’d like to think that I have been managing my personal branding for some while now, to varying degrees of success. Nonetheless, I will now take the time to reflect on this.
Googled: my name
My name is Mark Burgess. A not so unsual name, unfortunately. A quick and dirty search of my name on the interweb, and you will find my name everywhere. I am apparently a musician, a children’s book writer, a high profile funds manager - a banker of some description - and an ornithologist. If you were to place MMU (Manchester Metropolitan University) next to my name, I rank high. My subject responsibilities have my name and contact details together. Atleast, I know my student’s could find me, if they needed to.
My online name
Not so long ago, I chose to use @MLBurgess_ as my online brand name. There were a couple of reasons for choosing this name in this particular style. MBurgess seemed to be too short - the M and the B looked too close together. Enter the L - my middle name is Lee. I think it gave my online name a little more distinction. It made it easier to read, and legibility is everything online, so I have been told - it helped to separate out the M and the B. The @ symbol is used in my Twitter name, so it made sense to use this on all my web publications. Finally, and unusually, the underscore: I put this in to separate my brand name from any subsequent text. See
- @MLBurgess attended the New Professional Conference.
- @MLBurgess_ atttending the New Professionals Conference.
I endeavor to keep this consistent throughout my online presence, so that I can be recognised on and offline, with relative ease.
My visual identity
In people essence are qualities that they possess. These are beauty, honesty, kindness, modesty, tact and other characteristics that are also known as virtues. Virtues are known as the ‘essence’ of humanity. Ritchie
I would hope that my avatar (photograph) - which I use on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, this blog - captures my professional essence, as well as helping people recognise me in person.
However, I have not yet developed a consistent theme throughout the different online social mediums. My blog theme is different to my Twitter page. My Twitter page, while designed by me, is chaotic and non-desrcript. My tumblr blog theme reminds me of mail or post, but I do like it. It was the best of the bunch when I was choosing a theme. But, I can certainly work on this in the future. I welcome any suggestions or good examples.
LGF: Work is its own reward
Recognition for my work at the LGF Library in the Foundations annual journal - hurray & much harrumphing.