The Collaborative Librarian Experience

One full year seems like a good time, to stop and take time to document and reflect on the achievements, trials and tribulations of being a new School of Technology Support Librarian at Cambridge University, so here goes…

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Background

In March 2019, my role profile changed to one supporting and developing library services for the School of Technology Libraries, with a focus on establishing a link between the Engineering and Moore Library (Sciences) teams.

In principle, this meant establishing new work procedures as a School of Technology Support Librarian whilst maintaining any previous ones that I had running library services at the Moore Library on the West Cambridge Site.

Much of this new role has, to-date, involved working collaboratively with the Department of Engineering Library, where my new line manager is based, developing products and services that required development, creation or supporting.

Whilst I’ve found this incredibly challenging, in terms of adaptation, logistical complexity, maintenance of my own perceived service standards and a work life balance, I have also find it incredibly informative and, ultimately, rewarding.

School of Technology Libraries Projects

To help me feel rewarded and successful in my role, I have found it useful to think of my new responsibilities as projects, breaking each one down into a series of tasks and evaluating what is required to make each one successful.

Below is a whistle-stop tour of the projects I have carried out, to date, in my School of Technology Library Support role, as well as current projects that I’m working on for 2020.

Completed Projects

Creating a new scanning service for the Engineering Library (EL)

scan

Building on my experience designing and developing a ‘Scan & Deliver’ service for the Moore Library, I collaborated successfully with the Engineering team to adapt and hone policy and procedure to a design that would fit the needs of their staff and students. Being able to apply my artistic skills in any project is hugely fulfilling and its wonderfully rewarding to see the new service being utilised by the staff and students. I’ve since gone on to present the project parameters as a simple pathway to creating an easily-adaptable “roll-out” service for Faculty and Departmental Librarians across the University.

See my presentation here.

Reviewing and improving existing Moore Library and EL interlending and intralending

Document Delivery Cog Promo - Twitter v1.1 (PNG)

Essentially, this involved combining existing services with the new ‘Scan & Deliver’ service to create a suite of document delivery services united under a visually-impacting uniform design (whilst incorporating house branding, naturally). The real wins here were opening access to services to the online community via adaptation of the old application forms – using an online survey tool – and then producing a successful campaign to promote the suite. My favourite project to date!

Establishing procedure, policy guidelines, scheduling and planning tools for EL social media communications

Researching University policy on social media communications whilst building on work carried out at the Moore Library was the key here. My prior experience with online sharing tools like Sharepoint, OneNote, Later and Tweetdeck helped enormously with this one enabling a quick win.

Developing the EL ‘Beyond Engineering’ (Wellbeing, Science Fiction, etc.) collections

This particular ongoing project has been extremely useful as I have learnt and applied new skills whilst in-situ; e.g. book purchasing procedure and collection development. Open lines of communication with the EL team has proved invaluable.

Reviewing social media services

This complex and thoroughly informative research project, one of the task outcomes from a vital (and super-fun) planning away day, helped to establish which services would help engagement with staff and students and decisions on its outcomes were taken after collaboration with the EL Team.

Developing a new EL Facebook presence

A result of the social media review (SMR) this one and not quite as straight forward as it may first seem, due to a series of specific policy restrictions with the platform. Adapting to the resultant complex series of procedural blocks moving forward was a frustration. However, initial user engagement with the platform has proved encouraging for the future.

Current Projects

Developing a series of EL Spotify playlists

Spotify Playlists

Another outcome from the SMR and a hugely enjoyable project to lead on. The aim here is to provide students with a series of aids to study and the means to assist with improving student mental health and wellbeing. The first – a Chillout playlist: http://bit.ly/SfSChillout – is now live with more to follow over the coming months.

Developing an Engineering Sciences LibGuide

EngSci LibGuide Homepage

The challenge here was to create a visually-impacting resource whilst making innovative use of a fairly dull-looking, clunky content management system. Ultimately though, the aim is to offer a one-stop shop for providing informational content to staff and students across the multiple Engineering Sciences subject areas. Coincidentally, this project would also plug a specific gap in the growing range of Library-managed Subject LibGuides. I’m happy to report that this was a challenging, yet all the more enjoyable for it, project to work on.

Update: This resource is now live – https://libguides.cam.ac.uk/engineeringsciences – but will require regular maintenance to keep content relevant.

Building the EL collection of handy guides to support EL training programmes

Having done a little bit of background research already, I’m looking forward to picking this back up when the new funding stream becomes available.

Developing and managing a STEMM Libraries Sharepoint page with monthly promotional newsletter

An ongoing project with a wider remit but one still requiring careful administration. Currently inhibited by an understandably complex internal communications infrastructure it has been somewhat of a frustrating challenge but my work, with the project leads, does seem to be reaching a high proportion of our perceived audience. Much has been achieved to get it to a satisfactory standard but there is still much work to do.

Concluding remarks

It’s been a fascinating year and an immensely productive start that couldn’t have been achieved without open lines of communication enabling successful collaboration between teams. It has also required the dedication, understanding and hard-work of so many people, so thank you folks… you know who you are. There are other projects I have not commented on here, both past and present, and there are some already planned for the future so there may be more to consider and ruminate on as I progress into my new role.

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