OK, it’s time to come out of hiding and re-enter the blogging world. It’s been an extremely busy summer, but an experience today has motivated and called me out. So here goes.
This morning I read an article on survey fatigue in The Chronicle and shared a link to it on Twitter along with another post asking the twitter-peeps if–outside of surveys–they use any creative ways of collecting feedback data. Almost immediately, I was engaged in a Twitter conversation with Ned Potter (@theREALwikiman) about a real interest in hearing how folks might respond to such a question. (Once again, evidence of the power of social connections)
Anywho, Ned suggested that writing a blog post on the subject might help to solicit responses. And he did just that. In the post, he asks:
I’m really interested in how to get feedback – not just from students in academic libraries, but from all patrons for all types of libraries.
And later in the post:
So what are you doing to ascertain what your patrons are thinking? Is there something more reliable than surveys? And if you’re asking them via social media, how did you find out what social media platforms they used in the first place…?
I share his interest, so I ask: If people are burning out on surveys, what are some other ways of gathering feedback from those we serve? Are you using any creative/innovative ways of soliciting feedback that is working and giving you a healthy response rate?
And I, too, am thinking of libraries–those of all types–and their engagement with library patrons. But I would extend the question to areas outside libraries. Do we see non-survey feedback strategies being successfully employed in other places that could be ventured perhaps in the library environment?
So let’s hear from you! Respond to this post. Respond to Ned Potter’s post. Share your creative solutions. Yes, the irony is thick with a feedback solicitation on the topic of feedback fatigue. But, hey, it’s Friday and comic relief is good for everyone, right?
Challenging. Time-consuming. The first semester of this academic year has been…well, just that. I can’t remember a more busy time in my career as a librarian since 1998/99. (That’s another “perfect storm” story altogether.) And most of what I have been entwined with recently comes from outside my typical sphere of duties. Our institution is currently involved in the re-accreditation process, and I have landed on several self-study committees either as a chair or a resource person. Anyone who has been through the re-accreditation process (this is my 2nd go-around) understands what that means.
Honestly, most of my work energies over the last 3-4 months have been devoted to something outside of the library, and I kinda miss my job. (I should also note that I lament being socially MIA on Twitter, etc. with my peeps.) Special activities like re-accreditation are beneficial and much-needed. Nevertheless, at times I feel like a school kid wandering the streets in the middle of a weekday looking over my shoulder for a truant officer. (Am I abandoning my post?) Other times, I feel like Cinderella must have felt to be left scrubbing the floors while her sisters went out to the big event. (Am I missing the fun?)
I’m ready to be a librarian again…and in more ways than one. I’m ready to get back to what I know and love best. At the same time, I have been reflecting on just what it is that I know and love best.
Perhaps one of the benefits of this time away from my normal duties has been the ability to step out of the mix somewhat and reflect. I have been doing some soul-searching, or–more precisely–some mission-searching. Actually, I’ve been reflecting on “mission,” “purpose,” and the like for about a year now. Maybe this semester was the match to throw on the charcoals that I have been soaking in lighter fluid. When I heard from some of the library staff that they had a good conversation this week about the library’s purpose and identity, I knew that I was onto something.
So here’s what we as a library staff are going to do. In January we are going to hold an informal library staff forum to talk about our library and its role in our institution and higher education in general. We will reflect on:
- Who we (the library) are.
- What we do.
- How we do it.
A family meeting, so to speak. Who knows? We may even invite the academic dean and the president. (Open communication is golden.) The plan is simple: Talk, listen, and respond and then see what happens.
New year resolution. Spring cleaning. A first step. Utter nonsense. Call it what you will. We’re going to talk and listen, and hopefully we’ll come out on the other end all the better for having done so.
Time to go. I’ve got more re-accreditation work to do before breaking for the holidays.
I love the idea of collaboration. It broadens the creative knowledge base, creates a richer planning environment, provides opportunity for improved productivity, and fosters a broader sense of ownership.
Lynne Bisko and Rebecca Pope-Ruark (Elon University) have published an excellent article in the October issue of C&RL News entitled “Making the Video: Tips for Successful Library-Class Collaborations.” The article describes a collaborative effort between Elon’s Belk Library and a class supported by the University’s Center for Undergraduate Publishing and Information Design (CUPID). Bisko and Pope-Ruark conclude the article with some practical advice for other librarians considering similar collaboration with students. This is worth the read.
Opportunities for collaboration abound. Most recently on our campus, the library…
- Worked with some students in graphic design on logo concepts
- Coordinated with Student Services during the 2010 Census to educate students about the U.S. Census and provide information about Census jobs
- Also with Student Services, shared information about career-related resources and will be crafting a plan for embedding library resources on the Student Services website
- Is considering a collaborative effort between our library and a marketing class
- Has begun a conversation with the Art Department about a partnership involving the creativity of some art students, paint, and library walls. The students are loving the idea. I’ll be walking through the library with an art professor later today. Exciting stuff.
Does your library have any stories of collaboration across campus? Successes? Learning experiences?
About 8 months ago I wrote a post offering kudos to one of our library staff members. It struck a cord with a fair number of readers. Now, with some new introductory material, it has been re-published in the October issue of OCLC Cooperative eNews.
I did not agree to this because it would be something to add to my curriculum vitae and pat myself on the back. Rather, I did this because I saw an opportunity to use an available channel to cheer a well-deserving library staff member AND spread the word about the value of libraries and those who work in them.
May we all continue to collect our “success stories” and use them to advocate the value of libraries every chance we get. Whether it’s in a newsletter, newspaper, board meeting, YouTube video, or on the street corner, talk it up with anyone who is willing to listen.
Later today I will be heading toward the coast to attend the South Carolina Library Association Annual Conference 2010 in Myrtle Beach. This year’s conference is entitled, “South Carolina Libraries: Advocacy from the Ground Up.” Keynote speakers include:
- Roberta Stevens, President of the American Library Association
- Lynne Bradley, Director of the Office of Government Relations of the ALA’s Washington Office
- Walter Edgar, Southern historian/author and Director of the Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina
The slate of concurrent sessions includes some interesting topics, and I have some good friends among the presenters. It promises to be a fun and productive time.
I’ll be on Twitter (@jkennerly) and using the hashtag #scla10. Send me a tweet if you would like to connect.
Over the last few weeks, the maintenance crew has been preparing a large portion of our campus grounds for re-seeding. There has been a flurry of activity: tilling, aerating, leveling the soil; removing large obstacles of debris, rocks, sticks, etc.; selecting the seed to be used; and before all of that, planning and more planning.
Seeing this happen today, I thought of an application for my job. I wonder:
Am I planting any seeds now that will bring future benefit to my library users?
The outcome of the maintenance crew’s hard work to sow the seeds on our campus lawn is uncertain. A person drops a seed and hopes that it will make contact with the soil, germinate, take root, and transform from that simple beginning to a beautiful creation that paints a lush green on the landscape. One thing is for certain though: If the seed never gets planted, don’t expect the grass to show up later.
Are we making efforts to deliberately do things now that may come to fruition only after some time has passed? If you believe something to be of benefit, don’t give up on it simply because you don’t see results right away. Granted, sometimes we try, fail, and simply need to cut our losses and move on. The seed simply isn’t going to grow. At other times, however, the seed just needs time to make contact, germinate, take root, and transform from a simple idea to something beautiful and useful.