Business Librarians Association Conference

Ok, so here’s how not to do  a conference report, leave it 3 months before writing it up for Staff Development blog! My apologies to all but here at last is my summary report of the Business Librarians Association Conference which I attended in July at Leicester University (co-hosted with Leicester De Montford). The conference theme was Improving the student experience: providing services and support that are valued.  Three key areas were covered:

  • Customer Service Excellence (CSE): in which we explored how working towards CSE accreditation improves our services and what value a CSE award adds to the student experience
  • Employability: we heard what skills employers are looking for in graduate students and discussed the library’s role in helping students acquire these skills
  • Marketing: we looked at the services libraries provide and how we can market these services to our users

So, to start off with Customer Service Excellence. We had a keynote presentation by Helen Loughran from Leeds Metropolitan University on how to get CSE accreditation and the value it adds. Key points made in Helen’s presentation are listed below:

  • CSE is about about bringing customer service culture into public services – one size doesn’t fit all. It’s not only about front line services but about providing an excellent standard of service throughout
  • It’s about knowing your customers and listening to them, monitoring and acting on the info you receive
  • Key drivers include professionalism, staff attitude, timeliness
  • Acts as a driver of continuous improvement, skills development tool, independent validation
  • Valid for 3 years with continuous assessment during that time
  • CSE look at 5 themes:
  1.  Customer insight
  2. The culture of the organisation
  3. Information and access
  4. Delivery
  5. Timeliness and quality of service.
  • The culture of the organisation is important – how do you talk to your customers and find out what they need?
  • Customer journey is about mapping the experience of your customer with the service. This mapping can be carried out over varied periods of time.  Map low points and high points of customer experience
  • CSE is also a very useful staff development tool
  • How do the ideas of your staff become embedded in the services you offer?
  • Importance of transforming learning spaces with customised support
  • Can use ‘mystery visiting’ to other services such as museums and come back and reflect on how good or bad customer service was
  • Importance of having service standards for the service being delivered. How are these produced (in consultation?) and monitored?

Another interesting session was Aiden Smith’s session on a new space management system at Birkbeck. They have introduced a system called Occupeye and you can view a video of how this works on You Tube.

Employability was another key topic covered by the conference. Paul Chin, from University of Hull and Kaye Towlson from De Montfort University both shared some useful insights:

  • Top skills employers are looking for:
  1. Communication
  2. Presentation
  3. Team work
  4. Commercial awareness
  5. Problem solving
  6. Planning and organising
  7. Flexibility and time management
  8. Positive attitude – show initiative
  • Some universities run compulsory employability modules

Jane Secker from LSE also gave a thought provoking session on The New Curriculum for Information Literacy. Here are my notes:

  • In 2011 Jane and her colleague Emma were set the task of predicting future needs of undergraduates and asked to come up with a practical curriculum
  • Imp. It’s not about locating information, it’s about what you do with it
  • Had to consider:
  1. Format and structure
  2. Timing
  3. Teaching style and method of delivery
  4. Role of audits and assessment
  5. Marketing and promotion
  6. Barriers to implementation
  7. Considerations around technology
  • Question: How does information literacy improve the experience?
  • Need to teach critical evaluation
  • UNESCO have put info literacy with media literacy so have information and media literacy policy
  • Student ambassadors – recruited 20 student ambassadors and run workshops. Can train one student up and they can provide peer support. Change experts network

And now for one of my personal favourites, Marketing. Ned Potter (a regular presenter on library marketing) from York University ran a session called Tuning out the white noise – marketing your library services. Here’s what Ned said:

  • Make your contribution count – consider what you are up against in terms of white noise in social media/ on internet
  • White noise= all staff/ student emails, reminders on the website, noticeboards, posters
  • Different communications we need to be aware of- peripheral vision = appearing on your users radar in a place they might not expect, offer non library specific expertise via non library specific channels? Line of sight = direct and targeted communication in. person, via email, social media
  • Need to establish your position as a provider of value. Library is an authoritative source of useful information. Need to focus work on establishing popular understanding of value of Library
  • For example, we can help you build your scholarly network online – don’t need to list all the elements
  • Keep it simple so it sticks in their heads.
  • York – set up library blog. Blog is more likely to show up in Google than a static website
  • Do what people need but market what they want. Talk about the stuff they don’t know about so don’t market books (which are obvious)
  • More people will do something if you tell them everyone else does it
  • 90% of students use library every day
  • Personalise your communications! It takes more time but makes a big difference!
  • Tap into students’ competitiveness – ‘You are being beaten by xxxx Dept.’

There were a number of interesting members sharing sessions but a particularly topical one was Andy Priestner’s (Judge Business School, University of Cambridge) session on ‘Why UX (User Experience) in libraries is a thing now. Here are my rather scrappy notes from that session:

  • Ethnography-studying groups of people by embedding within the group.
  • UX includes usability, service design, space design, user profiling
  • Ethnographic Research:
  • It’s about more personal and empathic approach
  • Delves deeper
  • Interested in more variables
  • Wider context, holistic
  • Observation, not just Q&A
  • Techniques are relatively unknown
  • We tend to ignore, culture, customs and habits.

Needless to say, if you do have any questions please feel free to contact me!

Jacqui Gaul

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *