This, yesterday from Unshelved. Says it all about libraries really. Not just the things in our collection, but the information we provide about research impact, copyright, collection management or just about anything else. We are about providing the information so that our user community (client? patron? customer?) can decide what’s best for them, in their situation. Everytime.
We haz an iPad in our team and we are downloading your apps…
The Outreach teams at MPOW have been given an iPad to use in our work. We have to share it, but it’s a pretty damn exciting piece of equipment to be allowed to play with, particularly as buying my own is not about to happen anytime soon. It’s early days, no one has taken it out of the cupboard (except I suspect the team leaders have possibly been playing with it – just a bit) and while I’d love to make full use of it, I want my time with it to be productive and useful.
I can think of a dozen things straight away that I could use an iPad for in the workplace – but they mostly relate to the way I organise my day, do my job and communicate with people rather than the way the team might use it. The thing with an iPad or other mobile device is that they are designed to be personal – to provide you with access to the functionality you need to get on with the things you do. Figuring out how to share it and still have it be a productive and useful tool is important.
So, library peeps, I am crowdsourcing. Are you in an outreach/liaison position? It could be any type of library – doesn’t have to be an academic focus. Do you use an iPad as part of your work day? What apps do you find useful, what functionality is important, HOW do you use it in your work day? Remembering that we can’t use it to keep track of email, tweet on the run or check the time of the next bus because we’re sharing it, what CAN we use it for?
Some of my ideas so far:
- I do library tours with groups of international students – would be handy to have the iPad with me so I can also follow along with the virtual tour at the same time – point out that they can book rooms then show them immediately on the library website where they can book rooms
- Collaborative work with another team member creating a document on the run in a meeting room or other space that is not our desktop
- Note taking in a meeting with a School or academic
- Access to cloud services such as dropbox when away from my desk
I’m slowly getting used to using Outlook’s calendar function as a time management tool – I’ve used this functionality before but never to the degree that we use it here at MPOW. We all share calendars, so it’s easy to see where people are, or what they have on for the day if they ring in sick.
At first, it feels strange putting in a meeting request for a ‘quick chat’ at someone’s desk, but I’m learning that it’s the only way around here to fit in around the seemingly endless meetings everyone goes to. I’m learning to use the scheduler, which helps me see a time when everyone is free to attend, (even if it does still sometimes feel like ‘snooping’) whether for a quick chat or a more formal meeting.
I’m still a little Outlook-challenged, but getting there.
It’s nearing the end of my third week at my new job, although because of all the public holidays I’m only up to about my 10th or 11th day (I can tell by the stamps on my coffee card – I get a free coffee today!).
First impressions? I’ve come from an organisation with about 25 staff in total (including teaching, admin, IT, library, marketing etc) to one with 160 library staff alone. That’s a lot of people to meet, sort out in my mind and fit into the organisation chart and a lot of potential office politics to negotiate. Fortunately, I’m an old public servant from way back so in many ways this is a very familiar environment.
My role is outreach – to academics, post graduate students and faculty generally. I’ve got a few research centres to look after to start with, a project or two looming on the horizon and a supportive and welcoming team in which to work. I’m gradually getting a feel for the context of my role and working out how what I (will) do fits into the rest of the library service and with the university community as a whole.
I’ve been working so hard to concentrate and learn new things that I’ve temporarily dropped out of the blogosphere and twitterati – professional development is taking a back seat to learning the nuts and bolts of my job.
I’ll be back.
What’s in a name? Well, everything really. Welcome to a short rant about one of my pet peeves – the inability of otherwise seemingly educated people to spell my name correctly. I don’t have a particularly difficult first name to spell, in fact it’s a very common name. However, there are quite a few variations of the spelling and it seems to me that when doing business with me, checking which version I use is probably a) polite and b) professional. I can cope with my name being mispelled if its the first time I’ve heard from you, or if you have taken a guess having only ever heard it spoken (because I don’t use the most common spelling).
However, if I have sent you an email, with my name on it in AT LEAST 3 places, why, why, WHY would you reply with the wrong spelling? It makes you look a) slightly stupid b) unprofessional and c) completely uncaring.
To use my favourite phrase : It’s not rocket science.
OK, so today wasn’t a highlight in my new career. Training course in how to use the Libraries Australia database search functions, in a stuffy computer classroom – without access to Twitter! I probably could have learned as much with a few hours, the database to myself to play around with and the work-it-out-as-I-go strategy, but you live and learn I guess.
However. Tonight I wanted to revisit my theme of communication with a little essay on teleconferences. As a member of ALIA’s NGAC, I’m getting quite used to teleconferences. I’ve gone from zero to 100 in teleconference experience in just 6 short weeks. It’s quite a knack, concentrating on the subject at hand, keeping track of who is speaking and trying to make intelligent comment while simultaneously doing one or all of the following (seriously, these have all happened to me in the very few teleconferences we’ve had so far):
- shooing the cat off my lap
- spilling my cup of tea all over my notes
- indicating through sign language to teenage children that I am NOT currently available for consultation
- checking out books to students
- remembering to announce my name before speaking
- remembering not to speak too much for fear of boring others, or too little for fear of boring others
- indicating through sign language to other staff that I am NOT currently available for consultation
This week, we not only had a teleconference going, we had one member communicating via google chat because she couldn’t get onto the call and we were collaborating on a google docs doc as well. All at the same time! We’re very clever librarians 🙂
Reading a post from World’s Strongest Librarian this morning, I was struck by the issue of communication in all its forms. Essentially, Josh (WSL) is cautioning us to listen to the question before we leap in to answer it, thinking that we know what they are asking. Often our own prejudices, judgements and experiences combine to give us what we THINK is the context – which doesn’t allow room for the other person to set their own context. There is a technique in the psycotherapy and coaching world called Clean Language that attempts to address these issues and I do not pretend to know anything more about it than I have read on those few pages.
However, the concept of ‘clean language’ in the sense of being clear, unambiguous and therefore unlikely to cause confusion fascinates me. As I posted yesterday, I am in the process of writing a glossary of library terms for the moodle course in information literacy at MPOW. There are dozens of glossaries available on the interwebs (and I have freely adapted and cribbed from most of them), so why am I going to the trouble of writing my own? Simply, the students at MPOW are all international students and most of the glossaries out there make assumptions about knowledge that I know my students don’t have. Back to ‘clean language’ – the more I read and adapt for the student population here, the more aware I am of the jargon we use unthinkingly in libraryland.
Everyday I face the challenge of writing for and speaking to our students in a way that doesn’t set out to confuse them, yet is respectful of their intelligence, articulate-ness and well read backgrounds – just not in my language. My motto is K.I.S.S.