Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Week by week - Semester 1, Library Management Platform, Staffing, Study Spaces

Another week by week monthly summary as this semester has continued to be packed with things going on and reflection is out there somewhere on the horizon...
The end of October and beginning of November continued with Library Management Platform supplier demonstrations and scoring and subsequent consensus scoring.  The process has now completed and we are just waiting to get some technicalities finalised before proceeding with the successful supplier.  There will also be work to do on the SCURL framework and the dissemination of this to other interested parties.
A lot of time has been spent on staffing issues and developments over the last couple of months and this will continue into the new year.  We have some vacant evening/weekend library assistant posts so there has been some juggling of people to provide effective cover.  It always becomes more difficult into the winter months with sickness and travel.
As far as students are concerned we are now into our busiest time of the year especially with study spaces in the library.  The last day of teaching was 4th December and now we have 2 weeks of exams.  This means the library is full for at least 4 hours of the day and very busy for a further 8 hours a day and in use for the other 12.  It creates problems, the same ones experienced by a lot of other university libraries, of noise, shortage of space, food and drink, unattended items etc.  However despite this we do provide a good learning and study space and for the thousands of students using the library each day, it works.  We are averaging a footfall of 3000+ per day with a peak occupancy of nearly 600. 
We do have a programme of monitoring the study space in the library on a regular basis and this helps to keep a balance between all the different users and the demands on the space.
We've had a few ups and downs with services including an unscheduled installation of applications and systems, a Microsoft downtime of O365 and then today problems with jisc JANET service.  This means that communications have to be carefully managed in order to get the correct information out in the correct format and try to keep everyone in the loop.
Our social media accounts accounts are developing and I'm trying to train up more staff to use them and take responsibility for posting to them.  It's difficult to fit training into the busy schedule during November and December but we'll pick this up in January.

I have managed to get out to a few events including SALCTG, CSGUK and ELISA.
The CSGUK conference went well in November at Kings College and I enjoyed organising and facilitating the workshop sessions.  Still writing up the data and feedback that we received.
The ELISA winter networking event is Wednesday 9th December at the National Library of Scotland so looking forward to that.  

View from my office window

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Week by week - Semester 1, LMP, IT Help, loans and reservations...

The day by day weekly summary has become, temporarily, a week by week monthly summary as time to reflect during the first few weeks of semester is scarce.
Added to the usual frenetic activity has been continuing work on the process of procuring a new Library Management Platform (LMP).  During September there was scoring and evaluating of tenders and then recently there have been demonstrations by suppliers which again need scoring and consensus scoring. It has been a lot of work with working groups, internal and external groups and meetings and a lot of concentration. But it has been very interesting especially the involvement with other institutions and universities as part of SCURL to create a framework for using in the future. The process around tendering has been interesting too and it is good experience.
Anyhow, back to the beginning of Semester which went well.  We had the usual situation when some changes and improvements especially to do with the building were only ready at the last minute but everything was ready.  We had a stock relegation programme in place over the summer which involved clearing a lot of unused paper journals and this has created extra study spaces.  We've also gained another room for silent study so increased our study space by approx 70 seats.
Our new Principal visited the library on Monday 7th September along with other invited staff and everything went according to plan - a successful afternoon and it was a great opportunity to show off all the good work and the good service we provide.
Semester began on 14th September and we were busy with enquiries right from the start.  We get a lot of IT related enquiries in the first couple of weeks mainly about passwords, WiFi and email. Basically students want to get set up to access the university system as quickly as possible preferably on numerous devices.  All the information is online but many still prefer to come to the library IT help desk for face to face help, advice and assistance so it is good that we provide online self help, telephone, email and personal help.
Library related changes have involved the short term loans (3hr loans) and reserved books.  There has been a major change with these in that they used to be kept behind the Service Desk and issued by staff but we now have them on open shelving near the self issue kiosks and students can access them themselves at anytime 24/7.  We are monitoring the situation as we go along but we haven't had any major problems so far (despite concerns by some staff).  The system is not perfect but can be modified if need be once we have reviewed it at the end of the semester.  I'm confident that it is going to work...
24/7 opening of the library started at the beginning of semester and will continue up until 18th December. It is now established that we are open 24/7 for all of semester time and revert to 9-5 during holidays.
Other things:
Lapsafe lockers for students to charge their laptops
New rota for Service Desk staff in order to get a better insight into use of staff resource
Room booking software for study rooms still going well and can be accessed from OPAC machines so easier for students to use.
Change Advisory Board is still proving useful for keeping up to date with communicating changes.
We had a good visit from Edinburgh City Libraries showcasing their ebooks, emagazines etc. and lots of students signed up so that was interesting and a great collaboration.
Social media updates continuing and I've been doing stuff for ELISA and CSGUK but that's another story.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Day by day - VLE staff training, staffing, IT Helpdesk, resources and reports...

Tuesday 11th
Academic and Learner Services Team meeting - catching up on what's happening after being off for a few days

Customer Services Team training - we have a summer training programme for our team with a variety of topics including:
Eduroam/wifi – configuring devices
MFDs – basic trouble shooting and maintenance
Inter Library loans – general overview
Basic kayako (IT Helpdesk system)
Creating google forms for statistics and surveys
Basic spreadsheets
Vision – general overview
Emails and text messages – procedures for replying on behalf of Service Desk
Social media – overview and demo of IS Twitter and Facebook and how to post
Group study rooms and tables – equipment / screens – how to use and help students
The sessions are delivered by me or members of our team who are specialists in any of the above.  They are usually face to face sessions but increasingly this proves difficult as we have a wide range of staff working different hours and we have to repeat sessions when the semester only staff return.  So this year for the first time, I'm creating an online course in Vision (Blackboard) so that staff can do the training at different times.
Today's session was on Vision (Blackboard) as some library assistants have not used it before very much and not as a student so they found it useful to be enrolled onto a course and work through the training materials.  I have also created a test at the end of each topic.  This means they can consolidate what they have learned and also I have a record of who has completed which training.  

Wednesday 12th
Staffing issues and planning 

Thursday 13th
IT help-desk day - catching up on issues over the last week including which groups of students can have access to which software depending on their location and campus.
Discussion with our Helpdesk system developer on issues that need resolving and developments.  At the moment these are mainly around refining the processes needed for the most common requests from staff users outwith Information Services which are: Requests for new staff to be added to existing teams/departments within the system

Requests for new departments to be set up and accessed by either existing team members or new team members
Setting up auto direct of emails to create tickets
As more departments across the University use the IT Helpdesk system, it becomes more challenging to keep protocols and procedures universal and we have to be flexible depending on what users require.

Friday 14th 
Last minute report for ISLT
Meeting with Resources staff about procedures for processing book orders more efficiently.  Also implications from acquisitions point of view of the short loan collection being rationalised and reduced.  

Friday, 14 August 2015

Student views about using the library and IT help #libraries #IThelp #feedback

At the UCISA SS15 conference, one of the sessions was a presentation by a student, Emma Anderson, from the University of Leeds.  The presentation was entitled 'It's not just Facebook and Twitter.  How students use technology in their everyday lives'.  It was an insightful account of the student experience and interesting from our point of view, as 'providers' of the service as to how it is interpreted and used which is not always how we anticipate that it is going to be accessed.
I blogged about the presentation here http://bit.ly/1LbG9aV 
As providers and developers of the service whether it be a IT helpdesk service or library service or any student facing service in a university, we aim to maintain a complete and coherent physical and online facility that serves all parts of the student journey and experience.  From a students perspective, they want to dip in and out and take what they need, where and when they need it - to take the parts that are relevant to them whether it be a online resource or a study space.
The interesting areas to look at further are concerned with number of devices, what different devices are used for, that a variety of devices are needed, that study spaces need power and space and that social media is a small part of studying but a large part of life.
I drafted a survey which was based on these areas and tested it out on three students (not from Heriot-Watt University but 2nd/3rd year UG students).  I asked them a series of questions based on Library and IT Help Services and facilities.  I asked them to answer for the particular institution they had attended but it was not intended as a reflection of a particular University, rather their experience of university life. It was carried out in a fairly informal setting and included some ad hoc answers and information.

Q1 Do you know how to contact the IT Helpdesk at your University e.g. if your email wasn't working or a password needed changing
A1. No, would go to library service desk
A2  Looked up information online
A3 Yes, have office at back of library.  Also can search website for email or telephone contact

Q2 - In the Library building - what are the 3 most important things that the library provides?
A1. PCs, books, study space
A2. Study space, PC, printing
A3.  PC, printing, cafe/food area

Q3 - What sort of study space do you prefer to use or that you would like to see available?
A1. PC desk space, comfy chair, be able to whisper to the person next to me.  Also group space.
A2. Reading room, books, lots of desks, sit with friends but lots of space so don't feel crammed in and not people moving in and out of the room all the time.
A3. Sometimes PC, sometimes space with no computer but a power socket.  Silent space e.g. alcove with partitions.  Not enough group space to practice presentations.

The following question they just answered together in general
Q4 - How many devices do you use?
Have phone, ipad, laptop plus use PC
Sometimes if using PC for work then use iPad to look stuff up at same time i.e. research for essay
Don't often take laptop into Uni so need PC at Uni
Wouldn't use laptop and PC at same time but use either of these plus ipad or phone
Study spaces away from PCs need plug sockets for ipad
Sometimes print out lecture slides beforehand and annotate during lecture as this is easier than making notes and matching up afterwards

Q5 - What do you use the Library Service Desk for?  What would you go and ask about?
A1.  If can't find a book.  Pay off fines.
A2  If can't find a book.
A3 To hand in lost property.  Haven't had to ask about books as bought text books and look online.

Q6 - What about using Self Service issuing and return for books in library?
A1. Good as quicker and don't have to talk to library staff! Also said good in case the book is a reference book and so you wouldn't feel daft if the machine displays a message saying reference only rather than being told.
A2 Good as same system as at another library so knew how to use.  Good as gives a receipt showing date of return.
A3 Quick and simple.  Good for out of hours.  Good for short loans.

Q7 - Communication - what do you think about receiving emails from the university?
A1 Just skim read.  Has to be relevant to studies.  Don't read if about general university wide matters.
A2 Has to be quick and urgent with a relevant subject line.

Q8 - Communication  - using the portal for communication
They were all both positive about this and gave explanations of how it worked and what the interface looked like.  They had a good understanding of how it worked and how to access their respective VLEs.  They seemed to consider a VLE as perfectly acceptable and didn't want anything more sophisticated or snazzy.  The main reason for using the portal was to access the VLE and to receive notifications.

Q9 - Should the university use Facebook for communicating with students?
No to Facebook - although there should be a university Facebook page and a Library one - so I think what they meant was they would like to be able to view a University Facebook but don't want to interact with staff or lecturers.
They used Facebook groups for collaboration with other students
e.g. Revision group
e.g. Group work - could use a Moodle forum but would have to log in so Facebook group easier and useful for chatting and making changes to presentations.  Use with other students but not lecturers.

It was an interesting discussion and does reflect quite accurately some of the results we have had from quick surveys at Heriot-Watt Uni about the purpose of visiting the library and what facilities are the most important.  It has given me some good ideas about surveys that can be carried out next semester especially with new students starting in September and also as part of customer service excellence.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Using google forms for feedback

Using google forms is proving to be a quick and easy way of getting feedback from students who use our Edinburgh campus library.  We have already been using them for recording quick, easily resolvable enquiries at the library service desk so decided to try them out last year for feedback.
The feedback that we wanted to capture was about the purpose of visits to the library and consisted of three questions
What is the purpose of your visit to the library today?
How long do you intend to stay in the library today?
If more facilities could be added to the library, which 3 are the most important?
There were a selection of options to choose from for questions 1 and 3.
The questions were printed out and handed to students to fill in at the library service desk.
We had 513 responses and the feedback helped to inform developments in the library last summer including the  installation of new group study spaces that have proven very popular with students.
Although the forms were printed out the responses were entered by staff into the google form online and this made it very easy to collate the responses and produce a summary.
This year, at the same time of year, we produced an updated form to collect feedback based again on the purpose of visits to the library. The questions were similar in that question 1 and 2 were the same and question 3 was ‘If more study spaces could be added to the library for next semester, which 3 are the most important’?
Respondents could select more than one response.
Copies of the form were printed out and distributed at the Library service desk as before. Also in order to promote the form, a link to it was posted on the Information Services Facebook page and twitter feed.  This resulted in quite a few online responses – of the total 373 responses, 291 paper and 82 electronic.
The responses were input into the google form which automatically populates a spreadsheet of results. The other useful feature of a google form is that it automatically produces a summary of results in an easy to read format.
The results show a preference for individual study spaces which is a reflection of the time of year leading up to revision but also reflects the room usage figures that we collect.
Preferences for future developments show a demand for individual study spaces  and in fact more study spaces of all kinds. Students selected more than one type of study space that they would like to see in the future.
purposepie morestudyfeedback

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Day by day - LMP, Collection Development, Change Advisory Board and external events

Monday 15th June

  • Library Management Platform project board meeting including an update on the SCURL groups, internal operational groups and timeline for project.
  • Weekly meeting with line manager - staffing and plans / developments for summer
  • Collection Development meeting including update on stock relegation (books) and plans for removal of some of the journal stock to make more study space for students.
    Collection development is officially the responsibility of the resources team however in practice a lot of the work, especially maintenance and relegation, is undertaken by the Customer Services team.  This is mainly because they have the skills and knowledge of where the stock, books and journals, are located and their usage by students.  The demand for items is monitored by Customer Services staff.  We have a rolling programme of weeding and have just finished one list and are now starting on the quick reference and IPE books.
Tuesday 16th June
  • In York for Leadership Foundation 'Leading Across Professional Boundaries' course
Wednesday 17th June
  • Discussion re classification of IPE books to be integrated into main collection
  • Discussion with line manager re staffing and plans for next semester
  • IT Helpdesk update and current issues
  • Change Advisory Board - communications re print servers, roaming profiles, office 2013 and home page
Thursday 18th June
  • Oxford
Friday 19th June
  • Association for Learning Technology Trustees meeting at Institute of Education, London.

Day by day - statistics, systems, more LMP and 3hr loans...

Monday 8th June - holiday

Tuesday 9th June

  • Statistics 
  • Libcal room bookings
  • Relocation of 3hr loans - this has been a long running discussion now as to where we should relocate the short loan collection to.  I've been looking at the usage stats and found that of the 900+ items that we have categorised as 3hr loans, only about half were actually borrowed during the last academic year.  This is good news in that we can reduce the number of items kept in the collection.  The other side of the story is that the main reason for a book being in the collection is that it is recommended by a lecturer - this doesn't however mean that it is actually used. We can reduce the size, and footprint, of the collection and also make it available via self-service for students.  Now we just have to work out the best way to do this.  There are two or three possibilities which I've circulated for information and suggestions...

Wednesday 10th June

  • IT Helpdesk - catch up on issues
  • Complaints log
  • Staffing

Thursday 11th June

  • Team meeting - 3 hr loans, tasks, staffing
  • LMP project Document Delivery meeting - requirements and scenarios
  • LMP project Inventory meeting - requirements and scenarios
  • Emails to sort out mentoring
  • ELISA and blogging
  • Delivered training to staff on room booking system - collating statistics

Friday 12th June

  • Customer service excellence network meeting - Northumbria Uni

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Day by day - ELISA, ECA library, Library Management Platform and communications

Monday 1st June - a different start to the week from usual as I had the morning off as holiday.  I did check my emails though just to make sure there was nothing urgent to deal with.
Monday afternoon was a meeting of ELISA T&D group (ELISA Edinburgh) at NLS Lawnmarket.  the main items that we discussed were communications including the ELISA Website / Blog / Twitter and the planned programme of visits.  I am involved with the website and twitter account and tweet from the ELISA account at events.  There is a great programme of events coming up with visits to some interesting libraries in the Edinburgh area.

Tuesday 2nd June - some planning and collating of statistics.
Still trying to get the SmartStock device set up for weeding and stock taking.
In the afternoon I went to the Edinburgh College of Art library for a visit arranged through ELISA.
I've blogged about it here ELISA visit to ECA library 

Wednesday 3rd June - early start down at the IT Helpdesk to catch up on updates and to get staff input on changes to process for tickets from different departments.  We're clarifying and reviewing some of our procedures over the summer in order to provide a consistent service.

Library Management Platform Project Board meeting - there is a lot of work at the moment involving the new LMP that we will be getting for September 2016.  There is a project board, SCURL groups and internal operational groups.  This meeting was an update on project progress and the timeline.

Change advisory Board Meeting - these are working out quite well so far and it is useful as a means of communicating about communications for IT changes.  It's a good opportunity to catch up with other members of staff that I don't directly work with.

Other staffing stuff and building stuff - work has started on the new lift at the entrance to the library which will take nearly all summer.  The rear entrance to the library is blocked off but the main entrance is ok.

Thursday 4th June - another early start with IT Helpdesk matters.  Meeting with colleague from Malaysia about processing IT tickets specific to Malaysia campus and central tickets.  Also discussion about knowledge-base and what information needs to be on knowledge-base as opposed to the website.

 Library Management Platform catch up meeting for the SCURL groups.
Then LMP operational group for the management information requirements.

Catch up with Liaison Services Manager about shared tasks mainly about enquiries, issues and communication.

Then Service Improvement Group meeting - this was an extra meeting in order to try to push progress on a statistics / data dashboard - if only we had more time... but I think we are getting there and it is an opportunity to work across teams in the directorate.

Friday 5th June - communications meeting to discuss information for the start of next semester - information on the website especially 'Getting Started' guide and leaflets to hand out.  Also discussion around noise levels and signage.

LMP meeting with external colleagues to look at scenarios for demonstrations for circulation, document delivery and inventory.

Updated social media channels

And that's another week gone by...

Friday, 29 May 2015

Day by day - first week of 'vacation time'

Monday 25th May
Usual Monday morning catching up on people and places and any issues
Changing communications to reflect out of semester times including library opening hours and study spaces.
Communications meeting to plan website and printed information for next semester including 'Getting Started ' and 'IS Essentials'

Tuesday 26th May
Update on stock relegation - checking up on how much staff resource we have now that semester is finished to concentrate on this project and how much space we have for 'weeded' items to be held while they are checked and processed.

Collated extra tasks list for staff and also started pilot of delegated tasks whereby other teams can request for assistance from Customer Services Team.

Looked at statistics and what is needed for end of year summary.

Wednesday 27th May
We are planning on implementing a new library Management System next year so we are at the beginning of the process.  We have had some Project Board meetings and some SCURL/APUC meetings and are now starting the operational meetings.  these are an opportunity for all staff to be involved and contribute.  First meeting of the LMS Circulation, Document Delivery & Inventory operational group.

Then another look at the SmartStock device which is the handheld device that is part of our Bibliotheca RFID / Self Service set up to use for stocktaking or weeding.  We have not had much success so far as the file formats don't seem to match up.  Had a look at it with our Systems Librarian and hopefully we've worked out where the issue is - now we have to get it reported and resolved.

Then onto weekly Change Advisory Board meeting - not too many planned changes for this week apart from there will be network downtime on Saturday to upgrade networks and servers.

To finish off the day I had a quick meeting about the latest plans for moving the 3hr loan collection to a different location.  I've been reviewing the usage statistics and the number of items in the collection to see where would be the optimum location in order to improve accessibility.

Thursday 28th May
Customer Services Team Meeting - the advantage of out of semester time is that we can have a meeting at the beginning of the day when everyone can attend rather than having to split into two in order to cover the Service Desk.
Items that are top of the to do list at the moment are:
Building work - museum and library entrance
Posters and notices
3 hour loans
Extra and delegated tasks
Business Continuity - task and finish
Library Management System
Room Booking System
Social Media

Thursday is my day when I'm based at the IT help-desk so went down there to catch up on what's been happening and if there are any issues that I need to help with or escalate.

Then had a meeting to look at what we need to do to review the IT Helpdesk system that we are currently using to see if it is still suitable and doing what we want it to do.  Also some of the nitty gritty like looking at forms that will integrate to create tickets and setting up new departments, users and permissions.
Friday 29th May
Planning training for over the summer and for the beginning of semester.
All staff in the team have filled in the spreadsheet confirming the training and development they have undertaken during the year and have sent suggestions for training that they think would be useful.
I'm collating the list and trying to arrange times and also looking at how to put some of the training online.

Meeting with line manager about staffing and about comments and suggestions and about inter-library loans.

Checked up on social media channels and scheduled some posts for over the weekend.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Day by day - last week of semester

Monday 18th May
Checking up on usage figures for library over weekend especially as the VLE had been down the previous night.
Other statistics including 3 hour loans in light of plans to move the collection during the summer
Spent the afternoon at the IT Helpdesk catching up on any issues and incidents.

Tuesday 19th May
Academic and Learner Services monthly team meeting
Interviews for VLE Manager post - on the interview panel so it was a really interesting day.  It's a great job.  It reminded me why I like learning technology so much and wish I had the chance to do more now rather than management stuff.  It may prompt me not to get bogged down in what we do and what we are trying to do and instead go for introducing something new and innovative.

After work went to a talk at the National library of Scotland about the spy novels of Graham Greene as part of Edinburgh University Spy week.

Wednesday 20th May
Change Advisory Board - this is making a difference as far as communicating changes to IT systems that affect users.  Updated the systems status page and the knowledgebase announcements

After work went to a Blipfoto focus group

Thursday 21st May
ALT GPC meeting online.  Google hangouts are working well for this sort of meeting.

Second meeting of new Library Management System planning meeting looking at requirements of framework.  Interesting but quite laborious and lots of concentrating on the details.

Friday 22nd May
Last day of semester and no meetings.
The library was busy with students right up until the last exam - finally quieter today for the first time since September.
Caught up with lost of emails and started to plan tasks for next week:
Communications about the building works that will affect access to the library
Laptop lockers that are being purchased
Operational group for circulation, document delivery and inventory of new LMS
Planning delegated tasks for customer services staff from other staff in department
Weeding / stock relegation process and progress

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Day by day - IT issues, awards, LMS, reports

Monday 11th May
Usual beginning of week catching up on emails and day to day issues
Also trouble shooting after virus on Service Desk PC

Tuesday 12th May
Meeting about possibility of using ITHelpdesk system for reporting and routing information security issues and incidents

Wednesday 13th May
First meeting of the Library Management System SCURL group for circulation and document delivery

Teaching and Learning Oscars event in Student Union. Customer Service Team nominated - didn't win but good to be nominated and attend event

Friday 15th May
Catch up meeting with Head of Academic and Learner Services and also Liaison Services Manager
Monthly report for ISLT

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Project Boards, Change Advisory Boards, Shortlisting

Monday 27th April

The start of the Library Management System project looking at the overview of the project and roles within the project. First meeting of the Project Board and discussion regarding SCURL groups and operational groups.

Discussions regarding Institute of Petroleum Engineering books that were transferred into the main library last summer but need stock checking as some discrepancies between what is shown on catalogue and what is on the shelves / out on loan.

Tuesday 28th April

Telephone discussion with Service Desk software supplier

Service Improvement Group meeting.
Items on the agenda were mainly around statistics and data collection and what should be included in a monthly dashboard for management.
Also discussion around communication and how to continue to improve

Wednesday 29th April

Meeting about IT Helpdesk system and access to the system for new groups of staff users including those from international campuses.

Change Advisory Board - changes planned for this coming week and any new developments.  Only the second meeting of the CAB but interesting and useful so far especially from a communicating to users perspective

Shortlisting for post of VLE Enhancement Manager - some good applications so very hopeful

Thursday 30th April

Team meeting for daytime staff - updates on the quick survey about purpose of library visits,  monitoring the library space, extra study spaces, weeding of stock, short loans, cleaning, training etc.

Presentation by our Research Librarian regarding at Pure, open access and open data, and how we deliver / will deliver services relating to these areas.  Looked firstly at the current services and the range of policies and activities surrounding them and secondly at how we can best deliver services, and how we work with other university services on these areas of scholarly communication.

Spent the rest of the day at the IT Helpdesk as a catch up on what's been happening and current issues.

Friday 1st may

Mainly catching up with emails and other day to day tasks.
Meeting with Liaison Services Manager
Sorting out new staff issues and checking that inductions are underway

Collated feedback from the Facebook survey that we did earlier this semester

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Study spaces and seats - this week's hot topic

Last week, much time, effort and discussion, in our department and across the university, was focused on study spaces for students. Spaces within the library building and elsewhere on campus .
The library at Heriot Watt University Ednburgh Campus is popular, it is well used and is at capacity much of the time. There are 4 floors - the main entrance floor, which is floor 1, is general purpose. There is the Service Desk, individual study spaces, group study tables, study booths, bench tables and seats, soft seating and also the cafe. As we don't have a foyer area then there is also a tendency for groups to congregate and it is also a thoroughfare to other floors. The ground floor is silent study and journals and dictionaries and is the most clearly defined space. The second floor is the book floor with quiet study spaces around the perimeter, some individual study rooms, group study rooms and two quiet PC labs. The third floor is mainly group study tables but not exclusively as they are big tables on rows and can be used by individuals, small or large groups. There is also a large PC lab.
Looking at it objectively , it is a good mix and we all, including students, make the best of it.
It has a really good atmosphere but there is not enough space and it is not very modern (definitely 70s). Students want and need more study space. We have more seats than study tables which is ok from a social learning perspective but these should be extra to the quota not instead of.
We manage and monitor the space well and always find spaces where and when needed.
Last week students via the student union began a campaign for more places to study and the university have responded by opening up the conference centre and some teaching rooms. We've been advertising and promoting these additional spaces so hopefully this will ease the situation. What we need, of course, is a new library.....

Monday, 23 March 2015

Semester 2 More than half way...

Semester 2  - Week 10 or, in more general terms, Mid March or '2 months done 2 months to go' :)
Semesters as opposed to terms mean that it feels like a long haul between January and end of May - and it is a long time to keep going for 19 weeks.  But then the summer.  However, before anyone mentions that it is quiet in libraries and universities over the summer, it isn't - it is just a different rhythm and a different focus.
So, back to week 10.  We're increasingly busy in the library building - we seem to have become the 'destination of choice' on campus and consistently have an occupancy of over 550 from 12 noon until late afternoon.  If we count every single study space we possibly have, we have just 613 so there is a high demand for spaces.  The noise levels have also been creeping up and our main floor which has the Service Desk , group spaces, study pods, individual study spaces, social learning seats and a cafe, has become a noisy hub of activity.  We will continue like this until after Easter and then will re-introduce the 'Making the Most of the Space' initiative when we monitor the library learning space. The aims of the monitoring are to reduce noise levels in the library and also reduce the practice of students reserving spaces by leaving unattended items.
Our online booking system for individual and group study rooms is still in place and going well. Students have embraced the opportunity to book the rooms online in advance and the prime slots fill up quickly.  We have a few improvements that we can make to the procedure and also we need to monitor how students are using the system - with the group rooms there is potential to book for more than the maximum 3 hours and we are relying on students being fair.
Collecting and collating statistics is ongoing.  We are now in a situation where we are collecting most of the data that we need and can present it to those who need it.  But we need to make it much more relevant and timely (more time needed to be timely....)
From a staffing point of view we have been busy with PDRs (Appraisals) and hopefully these are complete now.  I have spent sometime looking at the objectives to make sure that staff in the Customer Services Team feel that the objectives are relevant to them.  I need to map them to the action plan more effectively in order for staff to be clearer how they can work towards their objectives in a practical way.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Online booking for study rooms #libraries

In our library building at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Campus we have 21 individual study rooms, 2 group study rooms and 5 group study tables.  These are bookable and, in the past, have been booked by a student coming to the library service desk and exchanging their ID card for a study room key.  The rooms were distributed on a first come, first served basis and could be kept for as many hours as required in that particular day.  The keys were 'issued' via the library management system.
During the last academic year the numbers of students requesting to use the rooms has increased dramatically not least because the number of students using the library building has increased and space is at a premium.  There was a general acceptance by students and staff that we needed a fairer system and one that offered more flexibility.
From September 2014 it was proposed that booking times for the rooms were introduced so that  the day was divided into 4 time slots 9.00 - 12.00, 12.00 - 15.00, 15.00 - 18.00 and 18.00 onwards.  This was introduced and although offered more choice and fairer access, it was difficult to administer and took a lot of staff resource.  It involved a paper-based system in conjunction with issuing the keys on the LMS.  Also it was still limited to booking face to face at the time at the library service desk.
So we decided to go for an online system from January 2015 and chose LibCal by Springshare.
We already use libguides as do many libraries and we had a trial of three 'rooms' to test the system to see if it would work for us.  I set up three rooms and asked staff to experiment booking rooms and cancelling rooms and generally having a look at how it would work for us.  Just before we went live there was an update from v1 to v2 so we updated to v2.
The system is easy to use and relatively easy to set up.  From a student point of view they follow a link from our Information Services website http://www.hw.ac.uk/is/library-essentials/study-spaces/edinburgh.htm or enter the website address from the handout.  The different rooms appear in a grid with available time slots in green. Time slots are available to book 3 days in advance. They click on a vacant slot and then enter their details in the form below i.e. name, HW email address and HW ID number.  This generates an email to them asking them to confirm the booking, which generates another email informing them that the booking is confirmed.  If they don't confirm the booking, it disappears after 15 minutes.  Students then come along to the Service desk at the start of their booked slot and swap their ID card for a key.
From a staff point of view, the screen shows all the time slots of the day and they appear in pink if booked and green if available.  When you hover the mouse over the time slot, you can see the name of the student and their email address and ID number.  So when a student comes to the Service Desk, staff check their details, change the time slot to 'showed up' and give out the key in exchange for the ID card.  If a student doesn't turn up within 15 minutes of the start time of the booking, we can cancel it and reallocate to another student.
The advantages so far are that the system provides more flexibility for students.  They can book up to 3 days in advance, can book online and can book for a time slot that suits them.  They can book up to 3 hours per day and so far this is not exceeding demand so everyone who has requested a room has been able to get one.
The advantages for staff are that they are not having to book rooms on behalf of students and there is no paper work involved.  It has required quite a bit of training for staff but most are now confident using the system.  Some students would like to continue having staff book the rooms for them but this is not practical nor preferable.  We can collect usage stats from the system so there doesn't seem to be a need to record the issuing of keys in the library management system.  The only downside with that is it doesn't count as a loan on a students record so if they go off with the key, it won't automatically become overdue and send them a reminder.  We will have to send a separate email but this doesn't happen very often.
The changes that we might make in the near future are to miss out the confirmation email so that the room is booked and automatically confirmed.  Feedback at the weekend from staff was that students weren't wanting to go online to the booking screen and then into a different place i.e. emails to get the confirmation email and reply to that etc.  I'm not sure if this is a real problem as I think it's just part of the process of students getting used to booking online in advance.  But if we took out the confirmation email, it would be one less step.
I might also change the set up of rooms into different groups to make the display on the screen easier to read but that's not urgent.  It would also be useful to have a dedicated PC / monitor of some sort in the library so students could make last minute bookings there and then.