Squaring the Circle: Increasing demand decreasing budgets

PastriesJust a quick round up of a great conference I attended yesterday organised by the talented collection mangement team here within the Library at BCU, the conference was titled Squaring the Circle: Increasing demand and decreasing budgets. Managing library provision in times of financial constraints.

There was a good mix of speakers providing varied perspectives and sharing really useful insights which I think could be put to practical use. In the morning we heard about a range of projects, KB+, JUSP and the Library Impact Data project all of which spoke about the benefits and added value of providing shared services and building communities. KB+ and JUSP are currently available for institutions to sign up to (and please do) while the work from the library impact data project could continue to be developed to provide a shared service. It was great to hear how collaboration between librarians, suppliers and publishers are helping build such useful services and tools which will in turn improve the services libraries provide.

We were then challenged by Professor Martin Fautley from Birmingham City University in his presentation Research and the Library: Doing and teaching research in education, where he talked about what life is like for an academic, about his priorities and his expectations from the library. I was particularly interested see the journal industry from his perspective as an author and editor. Throughout the presentation he raised a number of questions such as, how does an academic know their field and how does the library help with that? What makes a ‘quality’ library? Is there a category error mistaking knowledge for information?. Plenty of food for thought

The afternoon was focused on ebooks including a case study by Jill Talyor-Roe on their expeiences of Patron Driven Acquisitons with ebooks at Newcastle University. Having experimented early on she was able to provide some interesting statistics on usage and trends over the last few years and was a great introduction for any institution considering trying this model. I was also pleased to hear her advice of ‘not being afraid to fail’ which I think is important especially if we want to continue to innovate and experiment. Jennifer Rowley followed talking about the marketing and promotion of ebooks and mentioned looking to services such as Amazon for inspiration. On listening to this presentation I began to question the value of marketing a type of format and in the Q&A with the panel that followed Graham Stone noted that at Huddersfield their strategic approach to marketing resources was to do it in in the context of ‘Discovery’ rather than the product. Liam Earney suggested that improvements to the user experience were key to encourage use, making me rethink my approach to promotion of resources.

I personally found this an uplifting conference and encouraging to hear about the values of collaboration, sharing and working together. Throughout my experience in the library profession I have always been grateful for the support and helpful advice I have received from colleagues at different institutions and I hope that national services such as KB+ will thrive on this type of approach.

It was also lovely to catch up with some familiar faces and meet new people. One of the themes from this morning was how some projects were sharing ideas with each other, for example there are developments planned for further integration between JUSP and KB+ (am hoping someone is going to do me an infographic on how all the different Jisc projects interlink) and I look forward to seeing how some of the ideas shared at this conference are taken back to institutions.

Thanks again to colleagues for such an interesting day and ensuring our sugar levels were topped up throughout the day with pastries, biscuits and mince pies.

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Barriers to accessing e-resources

At another UKSG breakout session Dave Pattern from the University of Huddersfield presented a humorous, stat-filled presentation (proving the two can go hand in hand), about the difficulties faced by users when accessing online library content.

To prepare for the presentation he’d posted a question on twitter:

and received a plethora of responses, including ones from our very own @mcbjazz,  which broadly fell in issues around:

 

With the number of responses he had he said he had enough content for about 32 presentations, not one but essentially the crux of his argument was about how difficult we, libraries, publishers, aggregators make it for users to access e-content. This is at odds with the expectation of the user who is looking for the easiest and most convenient way, hence their propensity to use Google and Wikipedia. This is demonstrated by a quote from a college freshman as part of Carol Tenopir’s research:

“Why is google so easy and the library so hard?”

and other researchers have found that users will sacrifice the quality of information for accessibility (Morville, 2005).

Dave illustrated how difficult it was to access online library content with an access query he’d recently had from a student. The user was faced with 3 potential log-ins; publisher, Shibboleth and Athens all of which Dave tried and failed. With the number of clicks and pages the user would have to go through to find out the article was not available via that route it is easy to see why users get frustrated and give up using library e-resources. Dave did a search on Google, found the article and emailed the user.

So the challenge is for libraries to make access like Google and resource discovery is addressing this but the publishers need to make more content available via resource discovery – this is non-negotiable. At Summon camp it was mentioned that an institution in the US asks whether the provider is on Summon and if they are not they will not purchase the item. As we’re currently implementing Summon is this a policy we would want to endorse? Should we not renew any products not available on Summon?

Since implementing Summon at Huddersfield Dave estimates there has been 70-80% decrease in the number of access queries, previously spending 5 hours a week and now it’s probably an hour a week. So it’s having impact and resource discovery is removing some the barriers to accessing e-resources.

What’s interesting at Huddersfield is how they are using usage stats from Summon and linking it to educational attainment via the JISC Library Impact Data Project. Through deeper analysis they’re attempting to find indicators of academic success and failure: does using e-resources at unsociable hours indicate low achievement? What are the information seeking behaviours of high achievers? Gathering data around this is really useful because if you are able to state “Students who use the library’s e-resources get better grades” it has much more clout in terms of library marketing rather than focussing on all the stuff we have and reminds me of the message Terry Kendrick gave at his marketing training to BCU staff.

Another interesting thing they do at Huddersfield is make recommendations to the borrower on the OPAC, similar to amazon which has meant an increase in borrowing of unique titles, for more details look at COPAC data activity project.

For a copy of Dave Pattern’s slides click here.

Social media group: update

The Social media group was set up last year to explore how this could be used to engage with students and promote Library and Learning Resources (LLR). The library already has it’s own twitter account @BCUlibrary and the elibrary team have this blog and the eresources blog, but what else could we be doing?

After seeking advice from the university’s Social Media Officer it was decided that rather than create a specific Facebook page for LLR to make use of the Corporate Facebook page, which already has a fanbase of nearly 7000 and grows daily, and have a LLR post each Friday.

Picture of BCU Facebook page

An area on SharePoint has been created to keep track of the services that have been promoted but also forthcoming slots. Our first post on the university’s Facebook went up in February and so far we have covered My Assignment Planner, Science Direct Freedom Collection and Meebo to name a few. If there is anything you want promoted such as a new service or collection, to celebrate success within LLR contact your team’s rep.

P.S. The elibrary team rep’s spot is also up for grabs whilst I’m on maternity leave, let me or Damyanti know if you’re interested.

Customer Journey Mapping

gazetteLast week I attended an Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) training session. The session started with a brief presentation on what CJM is and then we were given a few activities to try in the library with the aim to map out one of our journeys. It was an interesting session and good reminder of the value in looking at our services through a different perspective.

While attempting to collect a reservation we quickly realised that without having anyone to ask we were reliant on the need for effective direction and instructional signage and without this our journey involved much too-ing and fro-ing.  Personally in understanding this experience it provided an opportunity to introduce simple tweaks to make it a more effective service for all parties involved.

We were also given a brief article that appeared in the Cilip Gazette in September 2010 written by Erika Gavillet providing a good overview of what CJM is and how it can help libraries.

The elibrary team have also been working on Customer Journey Maps and I am looking forward to seeing what ideas they generated.

Marketing Training

Birmingham City University, Library & Learning Resources poster

Birmingham City University, Library & Learning Resources poster

I attended a marketing training day run by Terry Kendrick for the library staff invovled in the strategic and campus marketing groups.

Being new to marketing I found it an helpful overview and an opportunity to see that many of the marketing campaigns done within Library & Learning Resources already follow much of the guidance.

The day had a full agenda looking at marketing in academic libraries, marketing to those we dont see, new technologies and quick wins on a small budget.

Some of the key issues I took away with me were

  • ‘can’t make a strong enough message broad enough’, we have to use multiple methods and messages to appeal to different users, there is no single answer
  • libraries need to promote their human side, it should be about the people as they are the ones adding value to the service
  • people are only interested in what they need, so targeted marketing is key
  • the messages should be about ‘what the library service can do for you’, for example it will save time, get better grades etc ratherthen about new purchases etc
  • testomonials and stories to help sell services
  • marketing is about a dialogue with customers

I think it important that marketing is part of our everyday work and not an afterthought. I also believe to continue developing, supporting and
maintaining services we need to make sure that they are being used and therefore need to engage in the full life cycle of the service.

It was an interesting day and provided a good opportunity to remind myself that the library is only a part of  the students university experience and therefore we have to be clever/sophisticated about how we broadcast our services to get maximum benefit.