Saturday 22 November 2014

SCONUL Winter Conference 2014 #sconul2014

On Friday November 21st I attended the SCONUL Winter Conference 2014 which was held at the Royal College of Physicians, St Andrews Place, London.
It is the first time I have attended the SCONUL conference and it proved to be an interesting and informative day.
The conference was entitled 'The Visible Library: Demonstrating our Value' and the aim, according to the conference programme, was to  address the need 'to define and articulate the value of the library to both internal and external stakeholders'.  The outputs from the discussions on the day will form a basis for a SCONUL advocacy toolkit.

The introduction and welcome was given by Liz Jolly, Chair of SCONUL and Director, Library & Information Services at Teesside University.

The keynote was given by Graham Henderson, Vice Chancellor of Teesside University
'Opportunities & Challenges for the Modern Academic Library: A VC's perspective.

It was a very interesting presentation and useful to hear a view about the purpose of academic libraries from a different perspective, from the perspective.  He talked about Teesside University and it's role as the 'Opportunity University', the 'can-do' university driving enterprise.
He explained that the library needs to be a hub of the university and a place for all students to get work done.  It should be a triage point for all.  
So, what are the challenges:
1. To respond to the increasingly diverse support needs of a wide spectrum of users within a finite resource envelope (All users - UG, PG, graduate employability, non confident)
2. Copyright - equivalence for partner locations
3. Access to research
4. Balancing the cost of resources to support teaching and research without burden on teaching funding
5. Embracing social media as an asset not threat
6. Access to sufficient finance and resources to provide staff, space and resources (fewer books on shelves does not mean less resource but more)
There is a need to get more people to understand the changing role of academic librarians - therefore express in employability , research impact, retention.  Update the perceptions about libraries - they are about innovation in L&T and not just content.  He used the phrase 'responsive repositioning'.
It is important to nurture the fact that the library is more than just 'another support department' -it has a critical role in academic processes.  I think this is an important point to note and a key message that needs to be communicated in a positive way.

The next session was crowd sourcing narratives - this was discussions in groups about the perceptions of Finance Directors, VCs, Academics of Librarians / Libraries.
I was in the Finance Directors group.  
The positive perceptions included:
Play according to the rules, evidence based, operational efficiency, good project management, corporate players, the library as student space, solution focused and pragmatic, strategic enablers.  
The negative perceptions included:
Do well in NSS so don't need to invest, cost too much and rising (content, space, procurement practices) the view that 'everything is free on internet', different systems used for library as for finance.
Each of the tables in the group came up with much the same answers which is reassuring in one way but in another it means that there are common problems that haven't been solved (if it is possible to do so?).
It was agreed that the perception is that libraries are good for engaging on open access.  Also an agreement that there is a need to put forward a business case in the right way, to align it to institutional strategies (not too parochial and don't be too precious about library).  Finance Directors want resilience and financial robustness and a good business case.
This was a recurring theme throughout the day - the need to put forward the case for libraries in a language that can be understood by those you are communicating with, use their language and present the case in the terms that others understand and can align with their priorities.
After lunch there was a reflections session which brought together the ideas from the crowd sourcing sessions.  The SCONUL Chair and Strategy Group Chairs summarised the narratives and explained how these linked with the work that the groups were currently undertaking and future plans.

The positive perceptions were that libraries are an important part of the University's brand and are valued as provide access to resources.  

The other points I picked up from this feedback and reflections session (and these are from my notes so not comprehensive)
Demonstrating our value - libraries are inspirational spaces from social to silent (I liked this)
Libraries have a good understanding of student behaviour 
But how do we make something visible when there is nothing wrong?

Reputational challenges
1.Cost of content 2. Copyright and licensing 3. Open access
SCONUL are having a content forum - ways to advocate the cost of content.  
Working with jisc collections etc. will produce a RDM briefing

User experience - concentrating on:
1. Graduate attributes 2. Supporting researchers 3. Supporting learning and teaching 4. Organisational skills and professionalism 5. Library space - is there a need for them these spaces to be anything other library spaces?

Shared services
1. Collaboration v competition between institutions. Need to give examples of shared services successes

Performance and quality
1. Data used appropriately for hard advocacy 2. SCONUL stats widely recognised - data is useful - how do we use that evidence base to build reputation 3. Use evidence for advocacy and to create strong business cases 4. Toolkit to help present business case 5. Link to jisc co-design

The next three sessions were based on case studies.
Margaret Weaver Head of LiSS University of Cumbria 
'Leading for Value Added'
She explained that they had had feedback from staff that they wanted better communication so they planned and facilitated a strategic conversation between the library and the University leadership.  They prepared by producing a poster presentation to show what their team offered to university and it had to be data rich. They aimed to show their value, their corporate value as a service and to show how they deliver innovation in practice. They produced infographic style posters with performance data including research support, graduate employability, academic support, learning resources, personal development and recruitment and conversion.  
This was interesting as it was from a wider perspective i.e. as Student Services and Library and therefore may be easier to present more comprehensive evidence of the student experience.  Also the use of infographics to present data and information - sometimes you have to use different formats to present a case and a visual representation is effective.  We used infographics when I was at Middlesbrough College to demonstrate data and trends and found it engaging for students and staff. 

The next presentation was given by Andy Priestner, Information and Library Services Manager, Judge Business School, Cambridge.
He talked about using 'Ethnography for Impact: new ways of exploring user experience in libraries'.
They decided to use ethnography in addition to surveys as surveys often have closed or leading questions and are self reporting - does this give an accurate picture of what students are doing in the library?
He explained about three ethnographic techniques that they have tried:
1. Behavioural mapping - map routes through library space, where students went, what they did.
Heat map. Desire lines. 
Most traffic going straight through - use ground floor in order to walk straight up to first floor
Users are quieter the fuller the space
 2. Show me round. Students guide us around the space.  This showed that some users are failing to access key services.  Workspaces - more desks and desk spaces.  2 tribes - upstairs and downstairs with different needs. Kiosk terminals - not popular
 3. Cognitive mapping
Students use different libraries for different purposes. Most people are regularly on the mover and use variety of research environments. Library services are complex so need to use ethnography

There is a link here to his presentation on Slideshare

And a link to the #UKAnthrolib blog

The next presentation was by Lorraine Beard, Head of Digital Technologies and Services, University of Manchester.  She talked about the Eureka student innovation challenge. 
Some of the projects that have come out of the partnership with students are a facility to reserve study spaces and click and collect book reservations.  
The things that were found difficult were: 
PC desk availability
Finding a book
Sharing reviews
Student well being. Sleep zones (yes, sleep zones in the library...)
The quick wins they have introduced 
Textbook rescue
Living plant project
Book trolleys
Ear plugs
Umbrella stands
There were some really interesting ideas and it was very much student experience focused.  It shows how difficult and different it is to see it from a student perspective when you are providing the service...

The final presentation was by Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind
It was interesting to hear about how a charity such as Mind promotes itself and it's cause and raises public awareness.  He said that it is important to concentrate and advocate the difference you're making to people you are working with. In the case of Mind they were promoting it as much more important than just as a subset of NHS health. Should this be how we think of libraries - more important than just being a subset of the university?  There were some useful points about changing peoples perceptions and using the passions of those involved to create engagement and secure funding.

The main takeaways from the event for me were:
1. You have to use the 'correct' language for the situation and the audience
2. Presenting a business case is vital - it has to be robust and aligned to the institutional strategies
3. Academic libraries do lots of good things, they are valued - it's not that they need to do anything different to the ways they are developing already - just need to engage and inform other people
4. Economy, effectiveness and efficiency are the important factors
5. Use the student experience - map developments and outcomes to it - e.g. "the library does 'x' and this leads to increased recruitment and retention"
6. Collect feedback - map behaviours - use data 

Customer Services Group UK Conference CSGUK2014 #csguk2014

The CSGUK Annual conference was held in London at the Magic Circle on Friday 14th November 2014.  The title of the conference was 'What does excellence really look like? Tangible examples of quality in Customer Service'

The welcome and introduction was given by Erin Caseley, Chair of CSGUK.

The keynote speaker was Ian Creagh, Head of Administration and College Secretary, Kings College London. He talked about the organisational culture for award winning customer service.  

Culture is the climate and practices that exist in organisations including the subcultures.  These cultures and subcultures are fostered within teams and change over time.
Organisational cultures depend on:
1. Size of the organisation and how far it is spread worldwide
2. Technology - a new system can change how the culture operates
3. Diversity
4. Age - the age of institution and its history
It's necessary to reflect on culture and subcultures in order to enable action in organisations and also to reflect on values.  Empowerment is vitally important - nothing gets done in organisations unless teams are empowered. 
He then talked about strategy and how it is difficult and takes time.  He gave the example of Apple in 90s where there was a need to cull manufacturing lines due to duplication and a waste of effort.  There was a need to remove barriers and obstacles and so choices were made.  
There should be a focus on market orientation rather than process orientation.  Universities tend to focus on the products that they think students want but instead should be market oriented. Market focused service delivery.  But market orientation means change - it's necessary to change and be dynamic to respond to customers This gives us a link to our customers.
He went on to say that values really count - values, integrity and leadership behaviour. Take a value and look at what it means - to do this and not do this. 
Empowerment - this is difficult as Unis are hierarchical.  You have to think about clarity of direction and the team who are going to deliver need to be involved in creating the strategy. It is important to have a rewards system and celebrate the successes.  Also to be able to try new things without blame if they fail.  An interesting point that Ian mentioned was 'conflict tolerance' - permission to conflict so that improvement can take place.  
Kings College initiatives were mentioned - CSE and 'fit for kings'.  A world class services for a world class university.  The quality of service we give to our customers begins with the quality of service we give to each other.  'Real Talk' Kings Future transformation programme - facilitating conversations about strategies and change. It is necessary to talk about things that count - identify issues - go through issues in a constructive way and move through it. 

The next presentation was 'Compliance Plus' Culture presented by the Libraries Customer Service Team Kings College.  
There were 6 members of their team represented.  Their Customer Service Manager explained how you have to empower staff to make decisions.  There has been a shift in culture from process focused to customer focused  - to be 'Responsive, inclusive, knowledgeable, friendly'. They have a Team Plan which provides a clear vision and roadmap (which they talk about all the time). Everyone is working towards the same aims and objectives and there is an opportunity for all staff to be involved.  
One of their Senior Library Assistants talked about 'Freedom in a framework' which means they have the freedom to make decisions.  Staff are responsible for decision making based on the ethos of being responsible and providing a consistent and fair service 'What can we do to say yes?'  They, as staff, are empowered to do what they think is right, to use their initiative in a no blame culture.  There are guidelines rather than rules and they do what they think is right within the framework. The Team Plan gives objectives, expectations and opportunities.
Their Library Shelver spoke about how everyone matters and they are empowered to contribute. There is an expectation on all staff and they are trusted. 
The Library Operations Manager explained about the shared vision and the values and commitment to change.  The focus on customer service experience.  The team goals are embedded in PDRs. Their recruitment processes focuses on recruiting for personal qualities.  The advert text is self filtering and they conduct competency based interviews.  The interviews include role play to assess  for customer service skills and there is a behaviours matrix for probation.
One of their newer Library Assistants also spoke to give an insight into how he had found the recruitment and induction process and the positive approach to new members of staff.

The next presentation was by Judith Andrews from Birmingham City University and was about 
Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) for Excellence
The purpose of CJM is to map the journey and identify key processes that the customer encounters. It is important for CSE, in order to enhance services from a customer point of view and also to collect information.
They had spent a lot of time and put a lot of work into the development of CJM methodology.  They are a multi-campus University so need to apply processes consistently.  They built on business process mapping (trained by Talis) and introduced the customer element.  They used a flow chart of a process and then introduced the customer with the effect of reducing the negative flow of the process. Judith explained the way that they had introduced CJM - initial training sessions with senior staff including scenarios.  Then introduced to Senior Library Assistants. They then moved to a swim lane mapping approach followed by a public trial of the methodology with Weslink.  Then it was rolled out to frontline staff.
They mapped everything eg self service reservation, borrowing laptops.  Issues were identified and actions taken to address them. Individual appraisal objectives were given to senior staff so that they owned the process and then the training was enhanced.

How to map a customer journey:
1. Produce a scenario
2. Brief staff how it works
3. Then have to let the staff member or student get on and fill in a template. They walk through the process . Then results come back and use flip chart and post its to show problems or issues. Then produce ideal map and this produces the actions. They also include the emotions - how do users feel if they are using your service?
It is important to work with students because "we can't be 18 again or unlearn what we know about libraries". They set up two pilots with students to test the CJM methodology.  They learned how the student researchers applied the methodology.  The projects confirmed the value of mapping with customers.  
Staff were involved by carrying out the initial mapping and it raised awareness of the problems encountered by students.  Staff were involved in the development of scenarios.  The outcomes of the student projects were shared and involved in creating action plans. Staff continue to lead student CJM.
Benefits of CJM:
It helps with planning 
Looking at it from student view perspective leads to reduction in complexity. 
Remember need to validate - don't use just a small sample of students.
Introduce concept of 'super mappers'
Emotions - valuable as shows impact of service and changes on users.
Can use results of CJM for library Learning and Teaching Team. 

The next presentation was by Lynn Sykes from the University of Sheffield about the Thelma Award.
Some of the elements that counted towards the awards were:
Investment in Study Spaces
National Fairground archive - showzam
Digital Leadership Alma Primo
The Thelma bid was a cross service bid and involved lots of staff.  Customer Services have streamlined processes - requests, variable loan, auto renewals. Variable loans - the length of loan depends on the level of usage - it's a week loan unless someone else has requested it then it becomes a two day loan. Books move round quickly which is essential and staff need to be flexible as they work at more than one site, more than one job, in more than one team.   
They have knowledgeable staff  who facilitate efficient referral at the Helpdesk including telephone, email and social media enquiries.  There are service desks at each site for face to face enquiries. There is efficient enquiry management and queries are logged and referred systematically. 
Lynn explained how they have standard answers for questions which are in a searchable word document based on a google site and searchable database. Everything that is requested is recalled, everything else is auto renewed.  There are no fines but if the item is not returned then the account is blocked (this is the library account not IT account)

The next presentation was by Jenny Share from Leeds Beckett University.  
Customer Service Excellence -  Making it Real.
They have achieved CSE for the whole university which is impressive.  
The University had a new strategic plan in 2010 which aimed to promote and embed a customer focused culture.  A  KPI was set to achieve CSE by 2015. The first step was to identify customer groups eg potential students, current students, alumni, staff. Then research best practice.  Followed by a gap analysis which helped  with the identification of next steps and quick wins.  A crucial step was to engage staff.  It was difficult to engage academic staff but was helped by the fact that communications about CSE came from vice chancellor.  Then they concentrated on process improvements The applicant experience, student inductions, fees, financial and student debt advice.  Then graduation and leaving the university.   Staff recruitment and CRM.   Other initiatives were  - mystery shoppers, communications guidance - what's your view feedback scheme.
The accreditation process involved the selection of an assessment body and building a relationship with assessor.  Pre-assessment visit, then desk based review of the evidence and then the actual assessment. They used a lot of real examples of current practice and planned events to do so.
CSE makes a difference in the following ways:
Cultural - institutional pride and celebratory culture
Reputational - of the University
Practical - enhanced customer experience, better understanding of customer service, better business process work, skills development, genuine learning from assessment, support for other initiatives - helped to evidence
Strategic - keeping CSE alive, continuous improvement

The workshop that I went to was a CJM workshop and was useful as a discussion forum and to look at the practicalities of how you would take a topic and try to map the process.  I talked to some delegates from University of Hull and they gave me some useful feedback about things they have implemented in their library including the room booking system

The final presentation was by Shepway District Council - Karen Everett - Customer Services Manager.
It was useful to hear about CSE in a non-library setting.  She explained how it is important to understand the customer journey.  They used customer focus groups and mystery shoppers.  The feedback from mystery shoppers went to the focus group.  It enabled better relations between teams and services and staff were involved in all processes.  Their service is based on triage when people come into building so they are dealt with promptly and directed efficiently.  Complaints are dealt with consistently.  

All in all it was a great day - extremely useful and informative.
My main takeaways from the day were:
1. To achieve CSE you need to have staff on board and they have to be positive and engaged
2. Different institutions have different cultures and subcultures and you have to take these into account and develop them to succeed
2. You need to plan ahead - there is a lot of work involved
3. Involve your customers - become customer focused not process focused

The venue, the Magic Circle, was interesting and appealing and, as you would expect, all the delegates were friendly and happy to exchange knowledge and experiences.